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American Medical Association Supports Cloning for Research
  

In an unexpected move, the American Medical Association recently adopted recommendations from its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that support the use of cells from cloned human embryos in biomedical research. The AMA, known for its conservative nature, rarely takes potentially provocative stands on issues that have political or social implications beyond medical practice and professional conduct.

However, the ethics committee and its new chair, Michael Goldrich, an otolaryngologist from Highland Park, New Jersey, took the lead on this issue because they recognized that doctors would one day need advice on research involving cloned cells, particularly stem cells. The committee's suggested guidelines were adopted in June at the annual meeting of the AMA’s House of Delegates.

The initial set of guidelines refer specifically to the use of stem cells derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer, one of the several ways cells can be cloned.

The guidelines themselves will sound familiar to anyone who has been following the news about human cloning and stem cells. They include a call for oversight, informed consent with normal disclosures about risks and benefits, and an explicit statement that the research should only be carried out if it is “uniquely promising.”

Curiously, the AMA’s official statement does not explicitly address a ban to cloning for reproduction, although it was apparently discussed at the annual meeting. As with most AMA guidance, it is up to physicians to choose whether they will participate in such research.

—Michele Garfinkel

—Related Links—

AMA’s press release on the guidelines

Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs

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