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Therapeutic Cloning Spurs Battle in Missouri

State lawmakers in Missouri are debating whether to ban a form of stem cell research known as therapeutic cloning, which some say could lead to cures for paralysis and diseases like Alzheimer's.

Unlike reproductive cloning, in which a fertilized egg is implanted in a uterus, therapeutic cloning (search) fuses an unfertilized egg with an adult patient's stem cells. From this mixture, new cells then grow in a petri dish and are inserted back into the patient's body to repair damaged tissues.

Researchers hope the treatment can be used to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease (search) and even heal those with crippling injuries.

"The benefit is that it will provide a perfect match for that patient," said Dr. Michael Roberts of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

However, critics say therapeutic cloning involves the destruction of human life, and some lawmakers believe the same work can be achieved using adult stem cells.

"Right now, adult stem cells are being used to treat people with spinal cord injuries. There are no cases of people rising up out of wheelchairs yet, but serious advances are being made," said State Sen. Matt Bartle (search), a Republican.

In Missouri, the debate is complicated by money. Politicians fear millions of dollars will be lost if the ban is enacted and researchers move their work out of the state.

In Washington, a federal ban on cloning was passed in the House of Representatives, but it failed in the Senate. Nine states currently have some form of law banning cloning.

Click in the video box for a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.