Australia’s chief scientist Dr Jim Peacock, immunologist and 2006 Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer, the University of Melbourne’s dean of science Professor Peter Rathjen and two members of the Lockhart review committee, who support therapeutic cloning for embryonic stem cell research, will speak to MPs on Wednesday ahead of a conscience vote on the issue.
Two Liberal MPs have organised a briefing at Parliament House on an expert review that earlier this year recommended overturning a ban on therapeutic cloning.
Dr Peacock last month warned the government’s cautious approach to stem cell research could prevent a scientific breakthrough.
Present legislation allows scientists to extract stem cells from spare IVF embryos, but prevents embryos being created through therapeutic cloning for their stem cells.
Therapeutic cloning is a laboratory procedure that involves taking the nucleus of a human cell and injecting it into a modified egg to create an embryo from which embryonic stem cells can be extracted.
Supporters of embryonic stem cell research say it could lead to cures for conditions including Type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease.