UK to gain stem cell 'network'

10-year development plan

UK chancellor Gordon Brown today confirmed that the UK will benefit from a new national stem cell research network, dedicted to investigating the therapeutic benefits of the "master" cells as part of a 10-year development plan, Reuters reports.

The announcement comes after leading UK stem cell researchers and big business recently called for the establishment of a charitable foundation with a fighting fund of £100m to keep the UK at the forefront of the field. The government has already pledged £40m over three years for stem cell research to add to the $20m stumped up by the Wellcome Trust.

It's clear, then, that the UK will continue to pursue therapeutic cloning, despite a recent UN blanket ban on human cloning. The UK said it would ignore the non-binding decision which was carried by 84 votes to 34 with 37 abstentions. The US was the major player pushing for the ban.

UK health secretary John Reid confirmed that the UN declaration "will make no difference whatsoever to the position of stem cell research in the UK: therapeutic cloning will continue to be allowed. The UK remains 'open for business' in stem cell research." ®

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