Lord Sainsbury has publicly expressed his support for a change in legislation to allow research that could lead to tissue therapies for numerous degenerative disorders. Sainsbury was invited to speak at a fringe meeting of the Labour Party conference last week by the Bio Industry Association. He shared a platform with Simon Best, managing director of Geron Bio-Med - a spin-off company of a California-based biotechnology firm that recently bought the right to use the Dolly-style cloning technology pioneered at the Scottish Roslin Institute.
Sainsbury said that research of the kind proposed by Geron offered the best possibility for treating diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 'therapeutic cloning does seem to offer the chance of such a cure. The government's committee on genetics has recommended such a change and we are considering it very carefully but personally I can see huge possibilities for this kind of biotechnology to combat the quality-of-life problems associated with such illnesses.' Lord Sainsbury made it clear, however, that he thought the government had been right to postpone a decision to allow close examination of the issues.
Use of cloning techniques in human embryo research is currently illegal in the UK under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990).