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Therapeutic cloning may be permitted at Newcastle University

A special licensing committee of the UK Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority (HFEA) met on June 16 in London to decide whether to grant a license to scientists at The Center for Life at Newcastle University. If approved, this will be the first license to begin research involving cell nuclear replacement (therapeutic cloning), focusing on the treatment of diabetes in the UK and will be a first in Europe.

Therapeutic cloning, for the derivation of embryonic stem cells, has the potential to lead to cures for serious diseases such as Alheizmer's, Parkinson's, heart failure and cancer. The UK has a strict regulatory system for human embryonic stem cell research. If the license is approved, it will allow this important work to begin. The UK was one of the first countries in the world to pass legislation to explicitly ban reproductive cloning.

Dr. Miodrag Stojkovic of Newcastle University who leads the research team said that he was very happy that the law in the UK allows scientists to work in this very promising field and use their knowledge in stem cell biology and nuclear transfer technique to bring faster and more efficient stem cells from the bench to the patient's bed.

Newcastle University's Institute of Human Genetics and the Life Fertility Center is one of only two groups in the UK to derive human ES (embryonic stem cells) from spare IVF embryos.

ES cells can be used to make any cell type in the body and replace cells that have been lost as a result of disease or injury. Cells derived from ES cells may often be genetically different from the patient, and transplanted cells could be rejected by the patient's immune system.

The Newcastle stem cell group will use nuclear transfer to derive stem cells that are genetically identical to those of a patient. In this case the stem cells and cells derived from them would not be rejected after being transplanted into a p
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Contact: Chris Pook
Chris.Pook@fco.gov.uk
202-588-6674
British Information Services
17-Jun-2004


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