Science Blog has a long blog posting today about Harvard's Stem Cell Institute and their initiative to begin human cloning or Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, including thoughts on the work, the history, and the controversy.

Harvard greenlights human cloning
After more than two years of intensive ethical and scientific review, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Harvard and Children's Hospital Boston have been cleared to begin experiments using Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) to create disease-specific stem cell lines in an effort to develop treatments for a wide range of now-incurable conditions afflicting tens of millions of people.

As far as is known, this decision marks the beginning of the first noncommercial effort in the United States to use human embryonic stem cells in a series of experiments whose principle has already been proven in animals. The work is being entirely supported with private funds because of the federal restrictions on human embryonic stem cell work. If successful, it will mark a major step forward in the effort to use stem cells to treat chronic diseases.