NEWCASTLE, October 21, 2004 ( – While the debate goes on at the United Nations whether to prohibit only some cloning, or all of it, scientists in the UK are moving forward. Prof Alison Murdoch and Dr Miodrag Stojkovic of the Centre for Life at Newcastle-upon-Tyne have received permission to go ahead with cloning experiments and have done the preparatory work. Dr Stojkovic is using spare eggs, left over from IVF treatments. “I have done the first manipulation with human eggs,” he said.  The British government has assured the scientists that their work will continue no matter what the UN decides to do. Britain has one of the world’s most openly permissive cloning laws that not only allows the creation of in vitro embryos, that is embryos created by sexual process of the meeting of sperm and ova, but of cloned embryos. The scientists are already complaining that the available material, ova from IVF clinics, are unsuitable. Prof. Murdoch said of the ova available, which are a day or two old, “The quality is pretty awful.”  The UK research proposes to create cloned embryos to serve as stem cell farms to treat diseases such as diabetes. However, many experts say that it is doubtful that any cures can come of such unreliable methods. One US bioethics expert, Dr. Dianne Irving, has been a vocal critic of what she calls the lingusitic deceptions employed by researchers to make such experiments legal, such as the adoption of the fictitious term ‘pre-embryo.’

The scientists at the Centre for Life justify the cloning of human embryos to avoid the problem of immune system rejection, but experiments with embryonic stem cells have shown that rejection is the least of the problems.

Past trials with embryonic stem cells have resulted in disasterous, irreversible side effects for patients related to the cells propensity for ‘wild’ unstoppable growth and for turning unexpectedly into the wrong kind of tissue. Irving comments, “I hope Great Britain has unambiguously assured any patients receiving any such ‘treatments’ that they will have competent and free follow-up medical care should they experience any physical or psychological harm – or death – because of the injection of such stem cells.”

Telegraph coverage:   ph


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