Human Exceptionalism

Lead Into Gold: Wilmut Says Human Cloning Research “Unnecessary”

Ian Wilmut was an enthusiastic human cloner, and indeed, had obtained a license from the never-say-no UK Embryo Authority to create cloned embryos from the DNA of motor neuron disease patients, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease in the USA. Then Shinya Yamanaka invented Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, and Wilmut called the cloning experiments off.

Now, Wilmut believes Yamanaka is due a Nobel Prize, wants to collaborate with him on iPSC research, and finds human cloning research to be unnecessary. From the story:

Wilmut praised Yamanaka’s achievement, saying the finding was equivalent to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. “I certainly think Yamanaka will have the Nobel Prize,” he said. Wilmut said he had initially planned a study to produce embryonic stem (ES) cells from cloned embryos, which are produced by placing the nucleus of a human somatic cell into an ova.

In connection with his research on iPS cells, Wilmut said it will be unnecessary in years to come to conduct studies to develop ES cells from cloned human embryos. Nevertheless, Wilmut stressed the need to continue studies involving cloned animals in the future.

Wow. What a turnaround. It seems increasingly clear that the ethical conundrum regarding pluripotent stem cells is well on the way to being solved.