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British scientists will soon clone human embryos for medical research. Cloning to create human babies–so-called reproductive cloning–is illegal in Britain, but cloning embryos for medical purposes is permitted.

Reuters reports that Newcastle University researchers will create embryos that could be used to treat conditions such as diabetes, but scientists say it will be at least five years before patients could benefit from their research.
The embryos, which should be perfect genetic copies of their DNA donors, will be destroyed before they are 14 days old. Stem cells derived from these embryos could then be used to treat their genetic “parents”–a process known as therapeutic cloning.

Scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea published the first report of human cloning in February, but this is the first time it’s been permitted in Europe. Attempts to ban such cloning in the U.S. have so far failed, though federal funds cannot be used to support this type of research.

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