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Harvard to clone human embryos

Medical researchers connected with Harvard University said on Tuesday they had begun work on cloning human embryos to create stem cells, using private funds to avoid a federal financing ban.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 14:25 IST
AFP

Medical researchers connected with Harvard University said on Tuesday they had begun work on cloning human embryos to create stem cells, using private funds to avoid a federal financing ban.

The researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Research Institute (HSCRI) said the project was aimed at creating disease-specific stem cell lines in an effort to develop treatments for a wide range of incurable conditions afflicting tens of millions of people.

Four years ago, US President George W. Bush imposed a ban on federal financing of new embryonic stem cell lines and the HSCRI program will be run with private donations.

Research involving human embryonic stem cells is controversial because extracting the cells requires the destruction of a human embryo – albeit one in the earliest stage of development.

Harvard University President Lawrence Summers said the potential benefits of the program outweighed the concerns of those who felt it challenged the sanctity of human life.

Embryonic stem cells, considered the building blocks of life, can be grown into any of the 200 cell types encountered in the human body and thus be used to replace defective tissues.

The process to be pursued by the Harvard researchers involves removing the nuclei from egg cells, and then replacing them with the nuclei of donor cells.