Panel approves moves to clone human embryos

A government advisory panel said Wednesday that Japan should allow researchers to produce cloned human embryos under certain conditions, panel members said.

Opinion worldwide is divided over research on cloned human embryos due to the possibility that such research could lead to the emergence of cloned humans. Proponents say such research can be applied to regenerative medicine.

The policy was decided by a bioethics subcommittee of the Council for Science and Technology Policy under the Cabinet Office. The council is chaired by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The bioethics expert panel put off making a decision in an interim report released late last year, noting different opinions such as one seeking the removal of the country’s ban on producing cloned human embryos and another saying it would be premature to do so.

Panel members have said they will take a clear stand on the issue for a report due in July.

A cloned human embryo is created by implanting the nucleus of a human embryo into an unfertilized egg that has been deprived of a nucleus and carries the same genetic information as the donor of the body cells.

Experts believe adverse reactions in transplants can be avoided if transplanted parts are made with tissue cells and organs from cloned embryos using body cells of the transplant patients themselves.