Most biotechnology companies like to fly below the radar screen, figuring there's no upside to reminding activists of one stripe or another that they work with animals, or patent genes, or engage in activities to which someone might object. They also, in general, like to wait to publish until they have enough data to have a shot at the major peer reviewed publications. But Advanced Cell Technology Inc. courts both publicity and controversy, as attested by the company's announcement claiming the first successful cloning of a human embryo.

But in its eagerness to publicize results that some scientists see as having questionable scientific importance, the company stimulated a political backlash that could retard the advance of nuclear transfer technology and lead to more stringent regulation of broad areas of biotech research. Thus although Advanced Cell did not succeed in keeping cloned human embryos viable beyond the six-cell stage, it did manage to revitalize the dormant controversies over nuclear transfer technology and human therapeutic and reproductive cloning.