The clone debate is back because of a study that was expected to be published recently. The study was in the magazine called Cell Stem Cell.
What happened in this study is that scientists took the nucleus of skin cells of 35 and 75-year-old men. They then produced clones of human embryos. These clones were able to make stem cells. Stem cells are one kind of cell that researchers value because any tissue that a body might need.
These researchers have made it very clear that these cloned human embryos will not be implanted in women. These embryos will only be used to do research on medical therapies. The promise of stem cells is that they have the capacity to grow tissue that the body needs to deal with illnesses like Parkinson’s. A person would probably not reject tissue that was created from a cloned embryo of themselves.
The opposing sides in a clone debate that is back believe that this study is a wake up call for the government to take steps before somebody uses this study to make a human clone. An animal clone has been possible since in 1996, scientists cloned Dolly the sheep. Human cloning has long been thought to be impossible and unethical. This new paper says that their study was able to resolve technical issues regarding the cloning of humans.
Jeremy Gruber, a president of the Council for Responsible Genetics, does think that cloning is not theoretical. His New York City-based bioethics organization thinks that the government needs to start passing laws that should state where the line is for governance of these cloning techniques. The Center for Genetics and Society and Gruber’s organization oppose the human cloning, but they do not mind if they clone stem cells to be used in the studies of tissue implantation.
The Family Research Council (FRC) does not believe in the cloning of anything. FRC is a conservative think tank that will never allow cloning, regardless of why the person wants to do the cloning. David Prentice, senior fellow at the FRC, says that an anti-cloning bill has passed the US House of Representatives. The US Senate has not dealt with the cloning issue yet. Prentice believes that this study has provided an opportunity that someone will try to clone a baby. Prentice believes that there should be no research on cloning because any cloning study could lead to the cloning of human beings.
Other scientists do not agree with Prentice. These scientists believe that cloning a human being is impossible. A stem cell scientist named Rudolf Jaenisch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), believes what Prentice says is nonsense. Cloning is still too challenging to do. Most animals clones have abnormalities and do not live long. Human cloning would be all the more difficult to carry out. Jainism believes that the study is more scientific than practical. This study is just a replication of a study that researchers did in Oregon last year. In 2013, researchers made a cloned embryo from a skin cell and were then able to make stem cells. Jamison thinks that replication of results is useful in science.
Robert Lanza, senior researcher at Advanced Cell Technology, thinks that the study’s way of creating stem cells is just too cumbersome to treat a lot of patients. He is working on a non-cloning approach to make stem cells from adult cells.
The clone debate is back after a study demonstrates how to make cloned human embryos. Some people believe that it makes it easier to start cloning human beings. Others consider that people are still far away from human clones.
By Tom Clark