THES reporters look at global developments in stem-cell research and legislation.
More than 60 different human embryonic stem-cell lines have been developed from excess embryos created for in vitro fertilisation with the donors' consent and without financial inducement.
These are used in the United States, Australia, India, Israel and Sweden. In the European Union, member states are free to establish legislation on stem-cell use.
Germany is to go ahead with human embryonic stem-cell research after parliament voted to allow the import of stem cells under strict conditions.
A bill to lift a ban on embryonic research has passed its first reading in parliament. It allows research on embryos for medical purposes but bans cloning.
The use of surplus embryos from fertility treatments is permitted for research. Production of embryos solely for research is prohibited.
The Catholic University of Rome has set up a placenta bank as an alternative to cloning human embryos.
Human cloning is banned but the government is likely to allow limited embryonic stem-cell research.
New South Wales premier Bob Carr has backed research on human embryonic stem cells, including their extraction from surplus Australian IVF embryos. The federal cabinet is likely to support a ban on embryo harvesting.
A law has just been passed banning the creation of embryos from combining human eggs and non-reproductive cells, as well as mixing animal and human cells to create hybrid embryos.