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Human-cloning claim creates controversy

Public relations ploy or scientific breakthrough? That's one of the questions swirling around a biotech firm's disclosure this week that it has cloned human embryos, although they never grew larger than a few cells.

The goal of these experiments is not to create a cloned person but to grow such embryos long enough that stem cells can be harvested, say scientists at Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), the Worcester, Mass., company that did the work. ACT investigators and other researchers contend that human embryonic stem cells, immortal cells that can develop into any cell type in the body, will one day help treat a wide range of medical conditions (SN: 11/7/98, p. 293).

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