Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Progress on human cloning

This is huge.

A South Korean team is reporting in Science that it has overcome considerable technical hurdles and can now reliably produce human embryos by "Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer" where DNA is removed from an egg and replaced by DNA from a donor, which can then be grown into a blastocyst, which can potentially serve as a source of stem cells for the donor, to which it will be gentically identical, obviating any problems with compatablity of the tissue.

This is so called therapeutic cloning, although SCNT sounds so much less ominous.

This advance is technical, not scientific, but is still very important. Previously there has been some concern over whether this sort of cloning was feasible in humans; that doubt is gone.

The anti-stem cell forces are predictably unhappy about this:

Dr. Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, said in an e-mail message that "whatever its technical merit, this research is morally troubling: it creates human embryos solely for research, makes it much easier to produce cloned babies, and exploits women as egg donors not for their benefit. "

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops shares those concerns, said Richard Doerflinger, director of pro-life activities there. He added that he also worried that a cloned baby might be next.

They are also sounding increasingly like Luddites. This kind of research is going forward; Kass et al. would be alot more effective trying to channel the tide, not turn it back.

If you desire more background my 3 part primer on stem cells is here, here and here


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