Second human cloning licence sought

18 May 2005

Researchers in Newcastle have applied to the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a second license to clone human embryos for therapeutic purposes. The HFEA granted a license for the fertilisation and cloning of human eggs, the first of its kind in Europe, to scientists at the University of Newcastle in August for research into human embryonic stem cells as a therapeutic tool (see newsletter item). A second team is now seeking approval to transfer the nucleus of a human embryo into an unfertilized donor egg. Professor Doug Turnbull of the University of Newcastle and Dr Mary Herbert of the Newcastle Fertility Centre hope this research will help in the development of techniques to avoid the transmission of mitochondrial disease from mother to child. In a joint statement they said: "'People with defects of mitochondrial DNA have a number of different clinical problems including severe muscle disease, epilepsy, dementia, stokes and heart failure

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