The Roslin Institute, the Scottish research centre that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1997, announced last week that it will request a licence to conduct research on embryos from the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
The scientists at the institute intend to focus their research on finding new methods of harvesting stem cells from human embryos. Ian Wilmut, head of the gene expression and development department at Roslin and creator of Dolly, said the application represents 'a significant shift for us and a natural way to go', adding that the application to the HFEA will be made 'within the next couple of months'. They plan to use embryos left over from fertility treatments and donated for research purposes, or embryos created specifically for research by IVF procedures.
The institute is also interested in finding out how the CNR (cell nuclear replacement) cloning technique used to create Dolly and other animals might be applied to human embryos. The application may take three months to be fully considered by the HFEA.