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[IP] the end is near!!
one step closer to finding a cure!!!!!!!!!! Please refrain from making any
religious or moral comment on the following - this is provided as SCIENTIFIC
INFORMATION. If you don't believe in it, please go discuss it on the
spiritual IP page
Sara Smarty Pants
c The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) - The House of Lords approved a proposed change to government
regulations Monday that makes Britain the first country to effectively
legalize the creation of cloned human embryos.
The measure is aimed at allowing research on so-called stem cells - the
unprogrammed master cells found in early stage embryos that can turn into
nearly every cell type in the body. Like all other embryos used in research,
the clones created under the new regulations would have to be destroyed after
14 days, and the creation of babies by cloning would remain outlawed.
The change passed late Monday after an amendment that would have delayed it
was defeated. The new regulations take effect Jan. 31.
Before the measure won approval, an impassioned debate on the topic ran on
into the night. Many lords said they were concerned that ethical worries
were being sidelined in the rush to be at the forefront of medical research.
They proposed an amendment that would have withheld approval of the
government's proposal until after the ethical, moral and scientific issues
surrounding the research had been studied by a specially created committee.
The amendment was defeated by 212 votes to 92, with the lords saying the
ethical issues should be debated by a special committee later. That cleared
the way for the cloning measure's approval.
Fertility expert Lord Winston, who chairs the House of Lords' science and
technology committee, spoke out strongly in favor of embryo research.
``There is no doubt that on your vote, my Lords, depends whether some people
in the near future get the treatment which might save them from disease or,
even worse, death,'' he told the lords.
The change relaxes the rules that limit medical research on human embryos
under the 1990 Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, which permitted
research on donated embryos only for strictly limited purposes, including
studies on infertility and the detection of birth defects.
Regulators will now be allowed to expand the types of research permitted
under the Act so that scientists can use embryos to investigate the potential
of stem cells, which experts say could revolutionize medicine, offering the
possibility of transplants that would prevent or cure scores of illnesses
from Parkinson's disease to diabetes.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which polices embryo
research, has promised to consider cloning applications for some types of
research, such as stem cell experiments. Those would inevitably involve
cloning of embryos, because the goal is to treat patients with perfectly
matching tissue transplants.
Peers heard during the debate that it could take up to a year before the
first research permits were granted and that a breakthrough in the field
could take a further 10 years.
An embryo is essentially a ball of stem cells that evolves into a fetus when
the stem cells start specializing to create a nervous system, spine and other
features - at about 14 days. Scientists hope that by extracting the stem
cells from the embryo when it is three or four days old, their growth can be
directed in a lab to become any desired cell or tissue type for transplant.
The hope is that one day it will be possible to grow neurons to replace nerve
cells in a brain killed by Parkinson's disease, skin to repair burns and
pancreatic cells to produce insulin for diabetics.
Scientists would create a clone of a sick patient by removing the nucleus of
a donor egg and replacing it with that of a cell from the patient. The egg
would be induced to divide and start growing into an embryo. The cloned cells
would be genetically identical to the patient's and therefore theoretically
overcome problems of transplant rejection, which happens because the immune
system fights foreign tissue.
``The human embryo has a special status and we owe a measure of respect to
the embryo,'' said health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, who supports the
``We also owe a measure of respect to the millions of people living with
these devastating illnesses and the millions who have yet to show signs of
them. This is the balance we must make.''
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