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UK gets £100m stem cell boost

Government doubles cash injection

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The UK's stem cell research programmes will benefit from £100m over the next two years after Gordon Brown doubled the government's financial committement to the technology, Reuters reports. Brown said the cash would go to "pre-commercial aspects of stem cell research" - considered high-risk by pharmaceutical companies - and the recently-established UK Stem Cell Foundation.

More specifically, the money was destined for "clinical trials within the state health service, research into cell production facilities" and support for the UK's stem cell bank.

Brown said at an enterprise conference in London: "Britain should be the world's number one centre for genetic and stem cell research, building on our world leading regulatory regime in the area."

The UK has already adopted a rigourous pro-research stance in the face of widespread opposition to the technology. Back in March, it declared it would ignore a non-binding UN ban on human cloning, at least as far as therapeutic cloning is concerned. Health secretary John Reid noted: "Reproductive cloning is already illegal in the UK. Anyone attempting it in this country faces a 10-year prison sentence and unlimited fine." ®

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