The cloning revolution: Ministers to back controversial change to law Within 10 years, doctors could transplant embryos created by three 'parents' – so eliminating genes that lead to life-threatening conditions – under plans to be debated by MPs tomorrow. Opponents fear this will pave the way for human cloning. Marie Woolf reports

Published: 18 November 2007



Babies made by cloning techniques from the DNA of two women could be born within 10 years as ministers prepare to give the green light for embryos produced by biological material from three "parents". A new law, to be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow, opens the door for such hybrid eggs to be implanted in women.
The novel procedure is designed to find a cure for mitochondrial disease, a range of life-threatening conditions that affect one in 10,000 people.
The development has delighted scientists who say it will usher in a new wave of groundbreaking genetic research that could prevent thousands of children from being born with debilitating diseases.
But Christian groups and campaigners concerned about developments in human genetics have reacted with horror at what they see as the beginning of human cloning and the approval of "Frankenstein science".
Parliament is expected to split over a clause in the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill. Many MPs say the clause will open the door for a new generation of life-saving research to combat mitochondrial disease which can lead to epilepsy, diabetes and fatal damage to vital organs. Nevertheless, any move to allow the creation of a child with the technique will almost certainly spark a row in the House of Commons and protests outside.
The controversial clause will permit embryos to be created from the nucleus of a woman's egg, her partner's sperm and another woman's donated mitochondria, which surround the egg's nucleus and are vital for cell growth. The procedure has so far been carried out only in laboratories. Researchers at the North of England Stem Cell Research Centre, Newcastle, who are leaders in the field, believe that within five years the procedure could be used to carry out trials to create babies.
Professor Alison Murdoch, head of the department of reproductive medicine at Newcastle University, said the Bill would take into account anticipated scientific advances in genetics. "The current work involves transplanting the healthy nucleus from a fertilised egg with damaged mitochondria into

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