Brussels, 03 Jan 2006
The scientist responsible for the cloning of Dolly the sheep, Professor Ian Wilmut, has called for stem cell treatment to be made available to people suffering from terminal illnesses.
Professor Wilmut told the UK newspaper the Scotsman that the treatment, still awaiting comprehensive trials, could save lives and speed up the pace of research. The scientist claimed to know patients prepared to participate in such trials, and said: 'If we wait until things are totally tested and analysed in animals, it will deny some people treatment.'
'If you've developed a treatment that might be beneficial in, say, motor neurone disease, then it's reasonable to allow people who are in the last stage of the disease to offer themselves,' he added. 'It sounds like they're being used as guinea pigs but sometimes people with a terminal illness volunteer to be used as guinea pigs if it will advance medical treatment for others.'
Stem cells are able to grow indefinitely, and could be used to replace tissues that are defective in those with illnesses such as Parkinson's Disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.
Professor Wilmut was appointed as the first director of Edinburgh University's new Centre for Regenerative Medicine in December.