Oz boffins grow stem cells from nose

Catholic Church-funded research

Australian scientists have used a grant from the Catholic Church to grow human stem cells from tissue harvested from the nose. The procedure neatly sidesteps the moral issues surrounding obtaining stem cells from human embryos. The cloning of human embryos for stem cell research is banned in Australia, although researchers can utilise cells from spare embryos created for IVF purposes, Reuters reports.

The Catholic Church stumped up a A$50,000 ($39,500) grant for the Griffith University research. Lead boffin Alan Mackay-Sim said: "We have got an adult stem cell which is accessible in everybody and we can grow lots of these cells and turn them into many other cell types. Apart from neural and brain cells, they look like they can turn into blood cells, heart muscle and to skeletal muscle."

Sydney's Catholic Archbishop, George Pell, enthused: "The significance of this is manifold. This represents a significant advance and I think this will bring a great blessing for people."

The UN recently voted to ban human cloning for any purpose, including stem cell research. The decision is, however, non-binding and many nations will continue with this "theraputic cloning" research regardless.

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