A UK government panel is expected to give therapeutic cloning research the go-ahead when it publishes its findings in May, according to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper. The panel, headed by the government's chief medical officer Liam Donaldson, was asked to investigate the scientific, ethical and legal issues surrounding the technique, which aims to use cloned early embryos to produce new body tissues. It was set up following the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)'s report of December 1998, which opposed cloning humans but supported therapeutic cloning.
The forthcoming document is expected to say that the benefits will outweigh the ethical risks, but will recommend tight controls on the technology. One scientist close to Donaldson's committee is said to have voiced fears that a ban on therapeutic cloning would leave Britain behind in a technology in which it had become a world leader, with researchers moving abroad.
A spokesman for the Roslin Institute, which cloned Dolly the sheep, said that cloned human embryos would never be allowed to develop beyond fourteen days. 'Any research using embryos has an ethical cost, but stem cell therapy has the potential to make a real difference to people's lives. We need to grasp the opportunity now' he added.
Sources and References
Human embryo clones to be used for research