SCIENTISTS have created a living embryo in a laboratory without using either egg or sperm in ground-breaking but hugely controversial experiments.
By Carley Read
The experimental research combined two types of stem cells and created a viable embryo – which the team say would provide an unlimited stock for medical research.
The created embryos would also be used for medical treatment testing and help shed light on one of the biggest infertility enigmas - why embryos fail to implant in the womb.
However critics say it is a huge step towards human cloning.
The researchers believe the wonder creation could see mice being cloned in three years time, and humans two decades later.
Lead researcher, Professor Nicholas Rivron of Maastricht University, said the main use for the embryos would be to test drugs and solve the infertility riddle.
He said: “As you know, embryos are very precious, and it is impossible to use to test drugs on them as you don’t have the numbers.
“With blastocysts you can open up the numbers. This will allow screening medicines in the future.
“I do not believe in using blastocysts for human reproduction. This is ethically very questionable, this would be clones of somebody who is already alive. Human cloning is totally forbidden.”
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute added while the experiment was a huge breakthrough for modern science, it may come as a relief it cannot be replicated in humans yet.
He said: “It may come as a relief to others that such a method of producing many genetically identical human embryo-like structures that might be capable of implantation is not feasible - even if it would be illegal to implant them into women, as is clearly the situation in the UK.”
Cloning continues to fascinate the science world, particularly after Dolly the Sheep made headlines across the globe in 1996.
The ewe lived for six years after being the first mammal cloned by professors at the University of Edinburgh by Keith Campbell and Ian Wilmut.
The animal died five months before her seventh birthday from a progressive lung disease.