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Rome University sets up alternative stem cell research
    The Catholic University of Rome is establishing a new research facility to search for alternatives to human embryos in medical research.
    Independent Catholic News reports that scientists will be setting up a 'placenta bank', which will become operational at the beginning of the new year. It will provide a more ethically acceptable source of stem cells, which are the 'master' cells that develop into the various cell types that make up the body.
    Currently researchers believe work with stem cells could lead to treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and insulin-dependent diabetes. However, such studies raise great ethical problems when stem cells are collected from human embryos.
    Researchers at the Catholic University of Rome hope they will be able to regenerate human organs and tissue without the use of embryos. They hope that stem cells taken from adults, or a baby's umbilical cord, will provide the same results as those taken from embryos.