Members of the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority met yesterday to consider the first application to clone human embryos….. for spare parts.
If it is approved, the team of researchers at Newcastle University, led by Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, will clone human embryos and use them as sources of embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to form any of the hundreds of different tissues found in the body. The researchers hope their work will lead to huge advances in medicine, among them novel treatments for disease.
“Our aim is clear: to use these stem cells to find a solution to diabetes,” said Dr Stojkovic, at the university’s institute for human genetics.
Many scientists believe embryonic stem cell research could usher in cures for conditions as diverse as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease. But critics called on the HFEA to reject the application, calling the research unethical, unnecessary and dangerous.
Cloning human embryos to make babies is outlawed in Britain, but so-called therapeutic cloning, where embryos are created for research, was made legal under strict guidelines in 2002.