Posted by Thermus aquaticus on Feb 11, 2002 at 20:26
Re: More cloning quirks (Andy™)
With so many adoption agencies spilling over and abortion clinics
still quite active, do we really need MORE kids being made than
are already produced "naturally"?
I can’t believe that people still don’t understand the difference between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.
Cloning an embryo with a view to implanting the embryo into a surrogate mother and letting it develop to term (ie. producing a baby) is known as reproductive cloning. There is not one single valid reason to conduct human reproductive cloning, other than to satisfy egos and/or to con money out of stupid ignorant people. The scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected human reproductive cloning. It is utterly irresponsible to try it because if animal cloning has taught us anything, a cloned human baby will almost certainly have severe developmental defects.
Cloning an embryo with a view to harvesting embryonic stem cells (ES cells) from the blastula stage embryo is known as therapeutic cloning. This is the type of cloning that scientists want to perform. This is the type of cloning that holds so much promise for medicine, for treating people with neurodegenerative disorders, for treating people with spinal cord injury, and the list goes on. It’s only in the general public and media that use the terms “cloning” and “babies” in the same sentence. Scientists don’t want to produce babies; we want to produce ES cells from a blastula (early stage embryo).
Why? By cloning a patient and extracting ES cells from the cloned embryo, we can then differentiate the ES cells in vitro into the tissue type that is needed by the patient, then transplant the tissue back into the patient. The beauty of this approach is that (1) once the ES cells have been cultured there is an endless supply of the required cell type and (2) there is no rejection because the patient is receiving “their own” cells. Even better than that, there is a growing evidence that the ES cells themselves are transplantable and will differentiate in vivo, rather than having to differentiate them first before transplantation.
This is all still science fiction at this stage, but it’s not far off. In order for it to become reality, we need to be able to experiment on human ES cells. We need to constantly create new ES cell lines from left over embryos from IVF procedures. But GW Bush, in his infinite stupidity, has decided that federal funding will not be available for human ES cell research except for the already existing 64 ES cell lines, only about 20 of which are useable. No funding is available for making new lines. It’s like trying to write a novel without using the letter ‘T’. And it certainly doesn’t help when people go around talking about cloned babies. That’s not what this technology is all about.