The creator of Dolly the sheep is to abandon cloning in favour of a new technique that can create stem cells without an embryo, it was reported last night. Professor Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly from an adult cell a decade ago, has decided that cloning no longer provides to most effective means of curing medical conditions.
Wilmut will switch to a new and less controversial technique developed in Japan, which creates stem cells from fragments of skin.
The scientist said the new technique was "easier to accept socially" than the cloning process he helped pioneer, according to the Daily Telegraph. He said: "I decided a few weeks ago not to pursue nuclear transfer [the method by which Dolly was cloned]." He will no longer use a licence to clone human embryos, which he was awarded two years ago.
The news will come as a blow to scientists who believe that the use of embryos to create stem cells is the best way to develop treatments for serious medical conditions such as stroke, heart disease and Parkinson's disease.