No surprise here: The UK’s “we never say no” Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has okayed the attempt to create cloned human embryos using cow eggs. The reason for this approach is the dearth of human eggs, the reasons for which we have discussed here before at SHS. From the story:
Scientists at King’s College London and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne will now inject human DNA into empty eggs from cows, to create embryos known as cytoplasmic hybrids that are 99.9 per cent human in genetic terms.
The experiments are intended to provide insights into diseases such as Parkinson’s and spinal muscular atrophy by producing stem cells containing genetic defects that contribute to these conditions.These will be used as cell models for investigating new approaches to treatment and for improving understanding of how embryonic stem cells develop. They will not be used in therapy, and it is illegal to implant them into the womb.
Don’t be fooled about the implantation limitation. That isn’t technically feasible yet, and besides, this early work is intended to perfect human cloning techniques so that it can be done reliably and efficiently. But if that is ever done, we will be quickly on to the other brave new world agendas such as fetal farming, learning how to genetically engineer progeny, and indeed, reproductive cloning. Make no mistake: Many scientists in this field–and certainly the bioethics intelligentsia–has an anything goes mentality. They don’t want to understand the meaning of no and they arrogantly don’t care what the people think.
The would-be creators of these cloned “cybrids” claim that they will create these embryos within a few months. Maybe. But it has proved surprisingly difficult to do human cloning with human eggs. If we are lucky, maybe it won’t be able to be done. But don’t count on it. Scientists are creative and ingenuous. They usually accomplish that which they set their minds and talents.