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Experiment Brings Human Cloning One Step Closer


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Scientists have used cloning technology to transform human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, an experiment that may revive the controversy over human cloning.

The researchers stopped well short of creating a human clone. But they showed, for the first time, that it is possible to create cloned embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the person from whom they are derived.

These stem cells could go on to differentiate into heart, nerve, muscle, bone and all the other tissue types that make up a human body.




But the refinements described Wednesday in the latest experiment suggest that "it's a matter of time before they produce a cloned monkey," said Jose Cibelli, a cloning expert at Michigan State University, who wasn't involved in the study. It also means, he added, "that they are one step closer to where the efficiency is high enough that someone is willing to try" to clone a person, though that remains a distant—and to some, disturbing—prospect.

The experiment was published online in the journal Cell. It was funded by Oregon Health and Science University and a grant from Leducq Foundation of France.




*The achievement is a long way from creating a cloned human embryo. Even if the entire blastocyst had been implanted into a womb, it wouldn't have yielded a human clone. The blastocyst was "missing a few cell types that it would need to implant" and was suffering other deficiencies, said Dr. Mitalipov.

Never mind the prospect of cloned humans; despite years of experiments, scientists have failed to clone monkeys.

Dr. Mitalipov said his lab had tried transplanting entire blastocysts into a monkey's womb, but those experiments hadn't yielded a single successful pregnancy.





* Define "A Long Way"?


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On a related note


The ‘Therapeutic Cloning’ of Human Embryos

The embryos killed are the first class of victims; the second class of victims will be the rest of us.

Samuel Aquila



Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is the sort of timeless morality tale students read as an antidote, or at least an objection, to the hedonism that seems to follow naturally from youthful ideas about immortality.


The story is familiar to many: Dorian Gray is a narcissist who wishes that a portrait of him — his copy in paint — would age in his place. His wish comes true, and though his life is corrupted by a pursuit of pleasure, only his painted visage bears the effects. Dorian himself is visibly unscathed, though the novel’s fatal climax exposes a soul rendered ugly by a life of egoistic debauchery.


The Picture of Dorian Gray took on a particular prescience yesterday. Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University reported a successful incidence of cloning, one that relied on the same method that researchers used 17 years ago to clone Dolly the sheep. This week, the cloned embryos were not sheep; they were human beings. The work is heralded as the success of “therapeutic cloning.”




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The Coming Human Cloning Controversies

Wesley J. Smith

May 18, 2013


I learned about the first successful human cloning last Monday, but couldn’t write about it until Wednesday because of a news embargo. The peer reviewed paper in Cell was rushed to print because is a huge deal. But, much to my surprise, it only made mild news. There were two reasons for that I think. First, we just went through a very busy news week. But I think the primary reason is that the scientists and media pretended that this wasn’t really human cloning for political reasons; just a step in that general direction.


But human cloning it was, and that is a huge deal, opening up the possibility of genetic engineering of embryos, creating custom made fetuses as organ farms, and the birth of a cloned baby. News stories often acted as if the experiment merely turned “unfertilized eggs” and skin cells into embryonic stem cells. Not true: The act of cloning creates an embryo. After that, the cloning is over.




Even though it is off to a slow start due to advocacy obfuscation, the reality of human cloning will soon create white-hot public controversies, a few of which I discuss elsewhere. These include:


Whether Human SCNT Cloning should be outlawed;

Whether the federal government should fund human cloning research;

How–and whether–to protect women from being exploited for their eggs–the essential ingredient in human cloning, one egg per try–since egg extraction can cause significant harm and death to suppliers.



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Just What Is Wrong with Human Cloning?

Brendan P. Foht

May 20, 2013


If we werent in the middle of a perfect storm of national political controversies, last weeks announcement from Oregon of the first cloned human embryo might well be dominating the airwaves. Even so, in the past few days my colleagues and I have received many e-mails asking about cloning and its moral significance. Anyone interested in the ethical questions surrounding human cloning could do worse than to read Human Cloning and Human Dignity[/url], a 2002 report from the Presidents Council on Bioethics. Although the report is over a decade old, its ethical analysis is well worth revisiting.


In his excellent NRO article about last weeks news, Samuel Aquila makes the important point that the commonly heard distinction between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning is disingenuous, since the creation of a cloned human embryo creates a new human being, and therefore deserves to be called a form of reproduction. (That is why Human Cloning and Human Dignity eschewed those terms and instead settled on the terms cloning for biomedical research and cloning to produce children.) The fact that cloned embryos have largely the same DNA as an existing human being should not distract us from the fact that they are new and unique human organisms, by virtue of their organic and developmental unity as living beings. Nor does the fact that cloned embryos are sometimes destroyed to create stem cells alter the reality that therapeutic cloning creates new, unique human organisms. Creating human beings whether through cloning, IVF, or for that matter through ordinary sexual reproduction solely to destroy them for biomedical research is to treat some human beings as resources to be exploited for the benefit of others.


And what of the ethics of cloning to produce children? Assuming that the medical safety of human reproductive cloning could somehow be established beforehand itself a dubious prospect the practice of reproductive cloning raises the specter of the eugenic control of human reproduction, and the pursuit of extreme mastery over children by their parents, who would be seeking to define in advance the precise genetic properties of their offspring. Cloning would also generate children who would lack a genetic mother or father. They would have instead an egg donor, a gestational surrogate to carry the child to term, and a donor of the chromosomal material being cloned though these three roles could all be fulfilled by a single woman, they could just as easily each belong to a different person. (Strictly speaking, the genetic parents of the person being cloned would also be the genetic parents of the cloned child, but they would lack anything like the normal relationship, either biological or social, that genetic parents have with their children.) The deliberate creation of children with these unprecedented parental relationships goes well beyond any of the most pernicious social experimentation on children already being conducted in todays assisted-reproduction industry.



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