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Research cloning, PGD, and nuclear transfer in the United Kingdom

Genetic Crossroads
December 2nd, 2004

Research cloning, PGD, and nuclear transfer in the United Kingdom: Cloning pioneer Ian Wilmut heads the second lab to apply to the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a license to conduct research cloning. The first such license was given to a team at Newcastle University lead by Alison Murdoch.

An infertility research group at Newcastle has applied for permission to transfer the nucleus of an embryo into an enucleated egg. The technique would result in a child that technically has some DNA from three parents. Human Genetics Alert Director David King said, "By creating a child with three genetic parents, these scientists are taking the first step towards genetic engineering of human beings. That is not a direction in which we should be going."

Meanwhile, the HFEA has come under criticism regarding approval of preimplantation genetic diagnosis for a late-onset condition. According to The Guardian, "Not only the pressure group GeneWatch UK but even some fertility doctors had doubts about the way the decision was made." GeneWatch UK Director Sue Mayer said, "Whether or not genetic selection of embryos should take place, or in which cases, is extremely difficult to decide about. The HFEA have taken it upon themselves to make these decisions without reference to anyone but themselves."


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