At a conference in London last week, Dr Anne McLaren of the Wellcome CRC Institute in Cambridge (UK) said that the first application of cloning techniques in cell therapy was likely to be for bone marrow grafts for children suffering from leukaemia. She predicted that this might be possible in the US within the next three years. Dr McLaren, a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, drew a firm distinction between the use of cloning techniques for reproductive purposes and the use of in vitro cloning for the development of cell/tissue therapy that could eventually be used for the treatment of hitherto untreatable conditions such as Parkinson's disease.
Last year, a report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission recommended to ministers that research into developing such therapies be allowed.
The Department of Health is due to make its final decision by June this year. At the same conference, the maverick American, Dr Richard Seed, restated his aim to clone the first human being. He later revealed that he plans to clone his own wife, the British born Gloria Seed.