UC-Irvine Stem Cell Cloning Program Draws Controversy
University of California-Irvine will join the ranks of a small number of institutions worldwide with a therapeutic cloning program, a technique that attempts to generate embryonic stem cells from people suffering from conditions ranging from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson's disease, the Orange County Register reports.
Therapeutic cloning never has been successful in humans, but researchers believe the technique can be used to develop patient-specific treatments because the cells likely would be accepted by the donor's immune system.
The research is controversial because it involves harvesting embryonic stem cells and some say it could lead to human cloning, which federal law prohibits.
Hans Keirstead, the UCI neurobiologist who received permission from the university to create the program, said, "We're confident that we can develop successful techniques for therapeutic cloning because our lab has the expertise and because we have access to unfertilized eggs, which are difficult to come by."
The eggs will be provided from volunteer donors at the West Coast Fertility Centers in Fountain Valley (Robbins, Orange County Register, 5/15).