Roger Pedersen, an American scientist now based at Cambridge University in the UK, was involved in a research project to clone human embryos, admitted his previous workplace, the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), last week. Pedersen's work on therapeutic cloning was funded in part by Geron Corporation, so as not to contravene a law in place at the time which prohibited the use of federal funds for such research.
UCSF said that it had been involved in a large-scale project to clone human embryos to derive stem cells for therapeutic purposes. It is the first major public institution in the US to admit doing so. The project has been temporarily halted while debates on stem cell research take place in the US. The UCSF's research, although said to have been unsuccessful, looks likely to add further fuel to the debate currently taking place in the US Senate.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Sam Brownback, sponsor of the Bill before the Senate that would ban all forms of cloning, including for medical purposes, has vowed to 'force' a vote on the issue, following last week's postponement of the vote. He says that if the vote is not scheduled to take place soon after the Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess in early June, he will begin to attach the provisions of the Bill as an amendment to other Bills being considered. Brownback believes the Bill needs 'immediate consideration'; he says 'the clock is running' and 'the longer we wait on this, the more issues arise'.