Harvard University scientists have asked their ethical review board to be allowed to produce cloned human embryos for disease research.
“We want to find new ways to study and hopefully cure diseases,” said Harvard biologist Douglas Melton.
Embryonic stem cells form about five days after sperm and egg unite. At that stage, they can become any type of body tissue and scientists hope to be able to the cells eventually can be coaxed to repair damaged tissues.
But harvesting stem cells from embryos kills the embryo, and some argue that it is tantamount to taking a life.
The issue is a hot topic in the presidential election. While President Bush has signed an executive order limiting federal help to all but existing stem cell lines, John Kerry supports increased stem cell research.