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Embryonic Cloning

By ProtiusX ·
Here is an article from the associated press:

Dolly Scientist Gets Human Cloning License

4 hours ago

By THOMAS WAGNER, Associated Press Writer

Ian Wilmut speaks at a news conference in London on Sept. 28, 2004. ...More...
LONDON - The British government Tuesday gave the creator of Dolly the Sheep a license to clone human embryos for medical research into the cause of motor neuron disease.

Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly at Scotland's Roslin Institute in 1996, and motor neuron expert Christopher Shaw of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, plan to clone embyros to study how nerve cells go awry to cause the disease. The experiments do not involve creating cloned babies.

It is the second such license approved since Britain became the first country to legalize research cloning in 2001. The first was granted in August to a team that hopes to use cloning to create insulin-producing cells that could be transplanted into diabetics.

Dr. Brian Dickie, director of research at the London-based Motor Neuron Disease Association, said the latest decision by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority means "we are a step closer to medical research that has the potential to revolutionize the future treatment of neuron disease," an incurable muscle-wasting condition that afflicts about 350,000 people and kills some 100,000 each year.

While the latest project would not use the stem cells to correct the disease, the study of the cells is expected to help scientists develop future treatments, according to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which regulates such research and approved the license.

Stem cells are the master cells of the body. They appear when embryos are just a few days old and go on to develop into every type of cell and tissue in the body. Scientists hope to be able to extract the stem cells from embryos when they are in their blank state and direct them to form any desired cell type to treat a variety of diseases, ranging from Parkinson's to diabetes.

Getting the cells from an embryo that is cloned from a sick patient could allow scientists to track how diseases develop and provide genetically matched cell transplants that do not cause the immune systems to reject the transplant.

Such work, called therapeutic cloning because it does not result in a baby, is opposed by abortion foes and other biological conservatives because researchers must destroy human embryos to harvest the cells.

Cloning opponents decried the license Tuesday, saying the technique is dangerous, undesirable and unnecessary.

"What a sad and extraordinary volte face (turnaround) for the pioneer of animal cloning," said the London-based Comment on Reproductive Ethics. "Wilmut has always been the loudest voice in recent years warning of the dangers of mammalian cloning. And we remember how in the years following the birth of Dolly the Sheep, he assured the world he would never go near human cloning."

Wilmut has repeatedly condemned the idea of human cloning to create babies, but not so-called therapeutic cloning.

"We recognize that motor neuron disease is a serious congenital condition," said Angela McNab, chief of Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. "Following careful review of the medical, scientific, legal and ethical aspects of this application, we felt it was appropriate to grant the Roslin Institute a one-year license for this research into the disease."

Wilmut and Shaw plan to clone cells from patients with the incurable muscle-wasting disease, derive blank-slate stem cells from the cloned embryo, make them develop into nerve cells, and compare their development to nerve cells derived from healthy embryos.

The technique, called cell nuclear replacement, is the same as that used to create Dolly.

The mechanism behind motor neuron disease is poorly understood because the nerves are inaccessible in the brain and central nervous system and cannot be removed from patients.

"This is potentially a big step forward for (motor neuron disease) research," Shaw said. "We have spent 20 years looking for genes that cause (motor neuron disease) and to date we have come up with just one gene. We believe that the use of cell nuclear replacement will greatly advance our understanding of why motor neurons degenerate in this disease, without having to hunt down the gene defect."

Genetics expert Peter Braude of King's College, London, who is not involved with the work, said that studying how nerves go wrong in motor neuron disease and how it can be cured is particularly difficult and that cloning is the only way to produce the cells necessary to answer such questions.

What do you think? Is this research ethical?

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Another bit of the wedge.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Embryonic Cloning

This one yes.
But ...
The road to **** is paved with good intentions.

Every successful use of human cloning techniques makes it more acceptable. It increases our knowledge base until some of the most awful predictions for the misuse of the technology get more and more possible.

Unfortunately when some of it does become commercially viable it will get done, then Hope will no longer be in Pandora's box.

Strange from a scientific type isn't it, but every potential benefit from this technology, equates to about 1000 potential abuses of it.

This quote says it all.
We believe that the use of cell nuclear replacement will greatly advance our understanding of why motor neurons degenerate in this disease, without having to hunt down the gene defect.

Oh brill lets bu**er about about, and take a few short cuts and see what happens.

Now that is not ethical at all, not to mention stupid.

If licenses for research start coming thick and fast on the basis of a success, I'd advise joining me on Mars. Leave all the aliens behind as it were.

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Scientific Review NOT Debate

by ProtiusX In reply to Embryonic Cloning

I had posted this thread in an attempt to engage and learn from some of my wicked smart friends (Neil) and see what other peoples opinions were on the subject. I think people are not responding to this thread because they are afraid of the arguments that they believe will arise from...well lets say me and my religious cronies. I hope to sooth your fears by saying that I have researched cloning and I am not adverse to certain kinds of cloning. There are a variety of cloning techniques that are used and in fact I believe the Israelis have developed a procedure to grow human skin. I am against the destruction of embryos for the harvesting of there stem cells and during my research I have found that there are other ways to harvest stem cells other than from the embryo. In fact I have read that stem cells can be harvested in the fatty tissue of adult humans and to this end I volunteer my vast stores for research. They can come and get as much as they want from me. I won't even charge them. ;o)

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Joesf Mengele

by john.a.wills In reply to Embryonic Cloning

Josef Mengele performed deadly experiments on unwilling human subjects. To the best of my knowledge no healing technique has been derived from the results of his work. Similarly, I doubt that anything useful will be discovered by killing early embryos for their stem cells - and there is no moral difference between killing those conceived by fertilization and those conceived by nuclear injection.

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Seeing as you asked so nicely

by neilb@uk In reply to Embryonic Cloning

I haven't posted because, yes, I was anticipating the sort of reaction that one gets from the "pro-life" brigade - especially in the US. I'm of a "pro-death" persuasion, myself (at least I would suppose that's how it would be viewed) as I'm not opposed to first trimester abortions.

I also have a take on scientific research in that I don't tend to look at the long view. That's not necessarily a good thing but it is an attitude posessed by a lot of research scientists. What it does mean, though, is that in the view of most scientists the future potentially harmful or unethical uses to which today's research can be put is not a good reason to stop it. That's how we got the A-bomb and H-bomb, I suppose.

Obviously, the breakthrough research on embryonic stem cells was done on aborted foetuses and unwanted embryos from IVF treatment. I can see why people with deeply held beliefs might argue that a human embryo, even the very small clump of cells being talked about here, is a human life and as such is sacrosanct and not to be discarded after the "harvesting" of some cells. I don't accept it as valid but I can understand it.

The particular research project that made the news and prompted this post was research on Motor Neurone Disease - rather nasty degenerative disease whose sufferers number around 5,000 in the UK. Most of them die within a few years although Professor Steven Hawking has survived 35 years.

Other genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease are already studied using stem cell lines created from affected embryos where the externally fertilised embryos from parents with known genes for these diseases are tested and only those embryos free of the genetic disease are implanted. As far as I can discover, such genetic testing for MND is not available so there is no other way to produce a motor neurone embryonic stem cell line other than using cloning techniques.

The cloning technique that will be used in the MND research is called cell nuclear replacement (CNR), in which the nucleus of a human egg cell is removed and replaced with the nucleus from a human body cell, such as a skin cell.
The replacement nucleus will come from patients with MND so the embryo also has MND. The egg would then be stimulated to develop into an embryo and the embryo would be allowed to develop for around six days, until it was at the blastocyst stage, a bundle of several hundred cells, before being destroyed.

The reason that I've described this in detail is that I, personally, don't have a problem with any of the proposed research. The blastocyst is not a "child". With the present state of research it's unlikely that the embryo would develop into one even if it was implanted. It has little more chance of becoming this "murdered child" beloved of the pro-life brigade that the millions of unfertilised human eggs and billions of sperms lost each and every day.

MND is NASTY and researching a better treatments and, perhaps, a cure is something to be glad about. This particular research is very early stage stuff but some additional knowledge should come from it; if not knowledge on MND then additional techniques in therapeutic cloning.

At the moment, I 'm happy to go along with the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's monitoring and control of research on human embryos.

The Roman Catholic Church has said that "every possible act of cloning humans is intrinsically evil" and can never be justified. I think it "isn't" and it can.

Cloned human beings taken to term? Ah, there's a different kettle of fish! I'll have a think about that one and get back to you!

Hmmm... Another one of me? Now THERE'S a thought...

Neil

More to follow, I suspect

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Genetic Savings & Clone

by Dr Dij In reply to Seeing as you asked so ni ...

This company actually clones cats.

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And your point is?

by neilb@uk In reply to Genetic Savings & Clone

What? Except from the point of research or as some sort of novelty, cloning cats is about as much use as - well - nothing.

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As useful as cloning humans

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to And your point is?

in fact, just slightly less stupid. Unless they make them hyper intelligent with an extra pair of limbs with opposable digits, so they can use the door instead of a catflap of course.
The cube square law suggest's they'd have to be a lot bigger as well so the door would be a catflap. Begining to sound like a bad idea now.

Unfortunately medicine does really progress by experimenting on humans. Our technology has simply postponed taking this step 'til later in the process. It's been obvious for a long time that we aren't 100% certain of what we are doing on many fronts in commercial medicine. There will be 'commercial' spin offs from this research, how much would a cure for MND be worth.
We could clone Hawking without the disease, however would we get a brilliant mathematician again. Intelligence is certainly genetic, but it's application is environmental.

The one that really scares me is longevity, humanity's holy grail and a disaster of biblical proportions that would sell really well for a while.
As for the catholic church's position, well their track record on morality or ethics is pitiful. The day I take advice on morality from a group who burnt people alive to see if they were witches, or move peodophiles about secretly as a PR exercise is never. They don't know the meaning of either word as a group.

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You're just a bit grumpy

by neilb@uk In reply to As useful as cloning huma ...

because you haven't had enough to drink.

Seriously, I'm OK with therapeutic cloning and stemcell research but cloning to term? No way. I don't think the problem is really cloning, anyway, it's germline gene therapy where you modify the genetic makeup so that the modified organism - humans is what I worry about - pass on the traits that you've fixed (read "enhanced"?).

I can live - for now - with somatic gene therepy where you fix a broken gene in a living organism.

Neil

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I agree

by ProtiusX In reply to And your point is?

But that didn't stop one woman from spending $50,000 to clone her dead cat. Honestly! Who spends $50,000 on a cat anyway?

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Have to ask House that one.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to I agree

Last I heard, the clone when it's 'born' has the same age as the donor. Wonder if it's only got eight lives now.
The thing is, it's going to be a completely different cat 'personality' wise. The problem with doing it with a human is far more profound.
You can imagine someone with more money than sense cloning themselves for some sort of immortality by proxy though. As for genetic enhancement. Would they be humans or products. After all you would buy them.

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