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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 16:41 GMT
Researchers welcome cloning decision
The Right Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, PA
The Bishop of Oxford chaired the Lords' committee
Senior scientific and medical figures in the UK have welcomed the House of Lords select committee's decision to allow a limited form of human cloning for therapeutic research.


Progress in adult stem cell research may only be possible once scientists have developed a better understanding of embryonic cells

Dr Vivienne Nathanson
BMA
"This research offers real hope to millions of patients," said Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of professional activities at the British Medical Association.

Campaigners against the decision described the committee as biased.

"[It was] a colossal waste of time and money and a cynical attempt to dupe the public into believing concerns have been adequately addressed," the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics said.

Stem cell bank

The BMA's Dr Nathanson said it was essential that research be carried out on cells taken both from adults and from embryos.


There is now the very real prospect that the UK can become a world leader in stem cell research

Professor Richard Gardner
Royal Society
"While results from adult stem cell research are promising, they also show limitation.

"Indeed, progress in adult stem cell research may only be possible once scientists have developed a better understanding of embryonic cells," she said.

Professor Richard Gardner, chairman of the Royal Society working group on stem cell research, said there was now a very real prospect that the UK could become a world leader in stem cell research.

"Unlike the United States, the UK has proper regulation of research on embryonic stem cells in both the public and private sectors.

"The establishment of a stem cell bank will further ensure that all researchers have access to the materials necessary for investigating radical new therapies for a wide range of diseases and serious injuries," he said.

'Worthless watchdog'

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc) condemned the Committee's report as a "whitewash".


Stem cells taken from the adults themselves are both ethically and medically better

Professor Jack Scarisbrick
Life
Professor Jack Scarisbrick, chairman of the campaigning group Life, attacked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which will regulate experiments on human embryos, as "a pretty worthless watchdog".

He said cloning was a dead end. "Almost every day new evidence emerges from laboratories around the world that we do not need embryonic stem cells.

"Stem cells taken from the adults themselves are both ethically and medically better. They are stable, plentiful and versatile, and will match the recipient's DNA perfectly," he said.

A BMA spokeswoman said the UK had a strong and effective regulatory mechanism.

"Every project of research is individually scrutinised and licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

"It is precisely because such a strong regulatory mechanism has been put in place that the UK is able to reap the benefits of this important research within a framework that has the support of the public," she told the Press Association.

See also:

27 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Lords back cloning research
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