Human Exceptionalism

The Observer: Cloning Set Back Years by Hwang

Human cloning advocates and their media allies are steeped in regret over the “years” that Hwang has allegedly cost cloning science. This piece in the Observer is well written and a prime example of this line of thinking. (And the description of therapeutic cloning is pretty accurate!)

Lost in all of this mourning are the tremendous advances being made in the very areas to which therapeutic cloning would supposedly bring relief. From the column: “The ravaged brains of Alzheimer’s victims would one day be provided with new nerve cells; diabetics would be given pancreatic cells to replace those killed off by their condition; and victims of cardiac disease would be treated with fresh heart muscle cells.The promise was immense.”

The “promise” is and was purely theoretical and speculative. Alzheimer’s, as has been repeatedly noted here, is NOT a good candidate for treatment with embryonic stem cells. As for diabetes, mice with late stage disease have been cured with adult spleen stem cells. Nothing close to that with cloned or natural embryonic stem cells. Yet, even though the FDA has approved human trials, the Harvard scientists who want to see if it will work in humans are having trouble obtaining financing. (The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation refuses to fund the study, but put over $1 million into Proposition 71.) Heart disease is also already being treated in early trials with adult stem cells. The list goes on and on.

No mention in the article of these avenues of great hope. Also, no mention of the bigger picture issues about what such a massive fraud means about peer review, the unskeptical media, and whether the “promise” of embryonic approaches are really as bright as has been stated.

I am convinced that media and cloning advocates will refuse to learn the deeper lessons of this scandal. It will be up to alternative media to keep that aspect of the story alive.


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