BBC to screen landmark programme on cloning

 BBC2 will be screening a programme called 'If Cloning Could Cure Us' this evening at 9pm. It will be followed by a debate on Newsnight with a chance for viewers to cast their vote on the issue. Josephine Quintavalle, Director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "I think this is the first time the debate has been presented in the UK in a relatively objective way." She said: "The BBC2 take on the issue will hopefully make the public aware at last of the actual rather than hyped reality of the debate." "In particular the BBC coverage of adult stem cell therapy for spinal injury should be of great interest. Even Christopher Reeve was aware at the end of his life that there was real chance of improvement using the treatments which will be touched on in the 'If' programme. It is tragic that he died so soon and before he could have availed himself of therapy. He might also have lost his enthusiasm for abuse of the embryo had he been informed in time of this ethical and up-and-running alternative. "CORE has been in correspondence this week with Dr Carlos Lima in Lisbon, one of the doctors worldwide who has been doing successful spinal cord repair therapies. Dr Lima uses adult nasal stem cells taken from the same injured patient and the results are truly impressive. Anyone wishing to contact him can get the latest news about his exciting work." Welcoming the programme, the Lawyers Christian Fellowship said: "The programme is being billed as a well balanced presentation of the arguments for and against cloning and stem cell research. The alternative of using adult stem cells over embryonic stem cells is discussed. "Adult stem cell therapies, largely overlooked up to now despite their better track record (for example, 56 disease conditions in humans have been treated with adult stem cell therapies, whilst none have been treated with embryonic stem cells) are now receiving some of the attention they deserve. "Embryonic stem cells are designed to grow rapidly. This is why embryonic stem cells generate fast growing cancers when implanted and why they are so hard to control. On the other hand, adult stem cells exist throughout the adult body and have a long term role in the replacement of damaged tissue throughout our development. This is what makes adult stem cells, and not embryonic stem cells, ideal for use in cellular replacement technology. This debate is timely because Peng Voong, who works as an LCF Public Policy Analyst, initiated judicial review proceedings against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last month over its decision to grant Professor Murdoch of the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life a licence to do human cloning. One of the arguments raised by Mr Voong's legal team is that the scientific case for the cloning authorised under the licence has not been made out, as required by Parliament. Andrea Williams, Barrister and Public Policy Officer of the LCF said: "There is a real need for the truth to be exposed in response to the inflated claims of those who support so-called therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Not only do these claims mislead the general public as to what may be achieved, they also give false hope to many people who suffer from serious diseases." Source: CORE/LCF

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