August 1, 2013 / 5:36 PM / 6 years ago

Top French court backs stem-cell research

A researcher works in his laboratory at the Institute for Stem cell Therapy and Exploration of Monogenic Diseases (I-Stem) in Evry, near Paris November 27, 2009. REUTERS/Gareth Watkins

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s top court approved a law on Thursday making it easier to conduct research on human embryos and stem cells as long as strict rules are followed to prevent cloning.

Predominantly Roman Catholic France has until now had tough curbs on embryonic stem cell research under a 2011 law that only allows it with the explicit approval from the national biomedicine agency.

Under a new law approved this month with majority backing from the governing Socialists and their allies, the agency’s approval is no longer essential, although strict regulations must be followed to conduct such research in France.

The Constitutional Council said it had approved the law, rejecting a last-ditch appeal by conservative lawmakers to get it thrown out.

Stem cells are the body’s mother cells and can self-renew or multiply while maintaining the ability to transform into any type of cell.

Researchers around the world have been studying stem cells from various sources for more than a decade, hoping to capitalize on their ability to transform into a wide variety of other kinds of cell to treat a range of health conditions.

Reporting by Emile Picy; writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Michael Roddy

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