The Corner

Bioengineered Human Life Would Not Be “Artificial”

Big news in biotech: Scientists created what appeared to be a mouse embryo using stem cells. From the Telegraph story:

Artificial human life could soon be grown from scratch in the lab, after scientists successfully created a mammal embryo using only stem cells.

Cambridge University mixed two kinds of mouse stem cells and placed them on a 3D scaffold. After four days of growth in a tank of chemicals designed to mimic conditions inside the womb, the cells formed the structure of a living mouse embryo.

The breakthrough has been described as a ‘masterpiece’ in bioengineering, which could eventually allow scientists to grow artificial human embryos in the lab without the need for a sperm or an egg.

First, this wouldn’t be “from scratch,” as if they scientists brewed DNA from raw chemicals. It involved existing cells.

Second, we already know that mammalian life can be created without egg and sperm, for example, as in cloning, of which this is a variant technique that fuses different cells into a new organism. 

Third, IF they ever create a human organism in this way, it would not be an “artificial life” but a real and fully human being that should be treated as such in ethics and in law. 

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