More MS news articles for Dec 2001

Swedish council calls for human embryo cloning

STOCKHOLM, Dec 04 (Reuters) - A Swedish group of experts called on the government on Tuesday to allow the cloning of human embryos to produce stem cells for medical research.

The Research Council, mandated by the government to draw up ethical guidelines into research, argued that the moral risks of this work would be smaller than the possible medical gains.

The recommendation runs counter to the Council of Europe convention on human rights, which opposes the artificial creation of embryos. Sweden, which has signed but not yet ratified the convention, has a long tradition of medical research and is home to many biotechnology companies.

"The basic question of stem cell research in Sweden is already answered with a 'Yes,'" Council chairman Bengt Westerberg told a news conference. "When it comes to therapeutic cloning we believe that the risk of offence is smaller than the potential to cure diseases."

Scientists believe that stem cells can be coaxed into developing many different kinds of tissue, possibly treating conditions such as Parkinson's, diabetes and heart disease.

US biotechnology firm Advanced Cell Technology said last Friday it had cloned a human embryo for the first time ever in a breakthrough aimed at creating stem cells to treat disease.

President George W. Bush has called this research morally wrong and urged Congress to ban it. Many European countries also oppose it.

In August, Bush said he would allow federally funded research into the 70 or so stem cell lines that exist worldwide whose embryos have already been destroyed so that there is no chance of life emerging from them.

Sweden has 19 of these stem cell lines--reservoirs of stem cells derived from a single human embryo.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited