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Japan’s top science council has adopted policy recommendations that would permit limited cloning of human embryos for scientific research. An Associated Press story reprinted in the L.A. Times gives the details.

Japan banned human cloning in 2001, but researchers have been allowed to study embryonic stem cells not produced by cloning. The new recommendations would let researchers produce and use cloned human embryos–but only for basic research. The cloned cells won’t be allowed for use in treating human patients, so-called therapeutic cloning. Still, stem cell biologists believe such basic research using cloned stem cells could help them unravel diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Britain and South Korea allow therapeutic cloning, while the U.S. prohibits the use of federal funds for any kind of human cloning and is considering laws that would ban it.

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