New clone could solve ethics issue

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The Independent Online

A new cloning technique being developed by scientists linked to Dolly the sheep could sweep away ethical objections to the creation of spare organs and tissues for medical treatments.

A new cloning technique being developed by scientists linked to Dolly the sheep could sweep away ethical objections to the creation of spare organs and tissues for medical treatments.

The system would create cloned cells without first creating an embryo, sidestepping the moral objections to standard cloning methods. If it works and is accepted, it might lead to treatments for illnesses such as Parkinson's disease.

Dolly the sheep was created when the nucleus of an adult sheep cell was inserted into an egg cell without a nucleus, creating an embryo that was implanted in a sheep and brought to term. That technique would also produce "stem cells" capable of being turned into organs such as kidneys or livers. A patient needing the organ would provide a few skin cells, which would be fused with an egg cell to create an embryo.

A method being worked on by Geron Biomed, a company launched by the team that produced Dolly, would largely dispense with the need for embryos, New Scientist magazine reports today. The technique would use an embryo's stem cell rather than an egg. The stem cells would play the part of the egg, and create the "embryo". The reprogrammed cells would, however, develop directly into the sort of cell that the patient needs.

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