Human Exceptionalism

Cloning Succeeds Using Destroyed Embryos

I have long believed and argued that stem cell research is merely the opening stanza of a longer planned biotechnological symphony. What “the scientists” are really after is a reliable way to conduct human cloning.

Without cloning, and you might get effective medical treatments from all kinds of stem cells–both ethical and unethical. With cloning, it is Brave New World time, baby!

Cloning science might have taken a huge step forward with the announcement of a successful mouse experiment in which two-celled embryos were destroyed and each cell subjected to the same cloning process used to make Dolly the sheep (somatic cell nuclear transfer). From the LA Times story:

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers said they had successfully generated embryonic stem cells using fertilized mouse embryos — a feat that many scientists had thought was impossible…

Senior study author Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a cell biologist at Oregon Health and Science University, says his lab now wants to reproduce their success, “first in a monkey and later with human embryos.”

If successful, the development would allow the use of “excess” human eggs that are retrieved and fertilized during in vitro fertilization treatments, but never used.Senior study author Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a cell biologist at Oregon Health and Science University, says his lab now wants to reproduce their success, “first in a monkey and later with human embryos.”

See, how the media mislead in these issues? The materials used wouldn’t be excess “eggs.” Once eggs are fertilized they aren’t eggs anymore. They would be excess embryos–e.g., nascent human life.

Here’s how the new technique would be performed:

  1. Destroy early embryos–either those frozen or made for the purpose;
  2. Take the embryonic cells and remove the nuclei;
  3. Insert a nucleus taken from cells of the person being cloned into each embryonic cell;
  4. That would result in a new cloned embryo(s); 
  5. Allow the cloned embryo(s) to develop ten days in a dish to the blastocyst stage;
  6. Destroy the new cloned embryos for their embryonic stem cells, and/or
  7. Implant the embryos in a uterus or substitute therefore and gestate for fetal farming or to birth for reproductive cloning.

This breakthough could be important because is a potential way to do away with the need for eggs currently required in every cloning attempt–and given the egg dearth, a resource problem that has materially held back the sector.

We still don’t know if the technique will work in humans. And we don’t know if the technique will be successful on human embryos beyond the two-celled stage, which most frozen embryos are.

But this I do know: The time to outlaw all forms of human cloning is now–not later when it becomes too late!

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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