Science magazine had hosted a live chat today, entitled The Science and Ethics of Stem Cells From Human Cloning. Two experts – stem cell scientist Dieter Egli and bioethicist Debra Mathews have addressed all issues about it and answered questions of online audience. I think, it was very interesting and educational. The chat is archived and your can read it on a web-site or here embedded below.
A few highlights.
I’ve asked a question:
Do you think premature prohibition of something which is not exist (human repro- cloning) in many countries could negatively affect the development of very promising therapeutic cloning (SCNT). I think so, but would like to hear your opinion.
The response by Debra Mathews:
There have been a number of attempts to ban human cloning at the international (United Nations) and national levels, as well as in smaller jurisdictions. Often, the downfall of these proposals has been that human reproductive cloning and somatic cell nuclear transfer were both included in the ban. I think that a ban exclusively on human reproductive cloning would not harm the research, since no serious scientist I know has any interest at all in cloning a human, and the questions that are being asked are largely basic science questions. Cloning a baby is a whole other kettle of fish, of course, with risks to the potential infant and to the woman who would carry that fetus.
Q: There were some issues with figures in the Oregon paper. Have those been straightened out?
A: … A lab in California has independently confirmed that the cell lines the Oregon team made were made with SCNT. Several other labs are working to replicate the Oregon team’s feat, which would be even stronger confirmation that their technique works.
Q: How close are we to achieve the result of a cloned person (a mirror image of one’s self) and do you have any thoughts about how or to what extent ethical and legal boundaries would be pushed? Say, how are we supposed to deal with those new ‘us’, if you will?
A: The cloning of a human being would raise a number of ethical issues, though the most compelling issues for me relate to safety: we cannot safely clone a human. There are concerns both about the potential clone and about the woman who would carry that fetus, as mentioned before. For example, cloned individuals tend to be bigger than naturally conceived fetuses, which is a risk for the woman. We also have no idea (and little way to assess) the long term health risks to the cloned individual.
Very interesting! Highly recommended to read!
PS: Dear email and RSS subscribers, please visit a blog to see embedded multimedia.