The U.K. has given Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute inScotland, the scientist who created Dolly the sheep (theworld’s first cloned mammal), a license to clone humanembryos for medical research. The clones will be used tocreate stem cells for research into degenerative motorneuron disease.

The plan is to extract stem cells from patients with thedisease and implant them in unfertilized eggs to createcloned embryos. The ultimate aim is to grow the nerve cellsthat transmit electrical messages from the brain and spinalcord to the muscles. While there’s no possibility, at thistime, of implanting the nerve cells into patients, thecloning will hopefully help to develop future treatments forMND.

Could this bring us one step closer to cloning completehuman beings? Wilmut says no, because the eggs will not beallowed to grow for longer than two weeks, and once the stemcells are removed, the rest of the cells will be destroyed.

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