Cloning – Archive

On Matters of Life and Death, Where Are We Now?

Taking Stock: Where Are We Now? Taking stock of where one is at the beginning of a new project or a new year is a good idea. Where we are in the entire realm of bioethics is beyond the scope of a mere e-newsletter, but what follows are some landmarks discernible in January 2016 . . . On Matters of Life and Death Physician-Assisted Suicide On Sunday, 24 January, John Jay Hooker, Tennessee lawyer, politician, and activist, died. Mr. Hooker had most recently championed “death with dignity” –physician-assisted suicide — in a proposed bill and in the courts. By the time of his death, neither the legislature nor the courts had provided him the decision he had recently pursued. The “Death with Dignity” bill was sponsored in the Tennessee legislature by Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley. Quoted in The Tennessean, Mr. Fitzhugh honored his friend, Mr. Hooker, with these words: “I found his love for our great state to be enormous, and unceasing. Until his last breath, he was committed to helping others, fighting for what he believed to be right, and being a voice for the voiceless.” There seems no lack of dignity in Mr. Hooker’s death. We are HERE: Mr. Hooker died while his case was pending before the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and that case awaits another plaintiff — http://wjhl.com/2016/01/25/die-with-dignity-bill-still-on-file-after-john-jay-hookers-death/ Three-Parent Embryos These were approved in the UK in (February) 2015 — http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/289706.php?trendmd-shared=0 We are HERE: In the U.S., the matter is under consideration by the FDA, and we await their decision. CRISPR How it works: “Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that...

Cloned Sheep is 15 per cent Human

Sheep geneticists did not make the headlines for a while, but now they are back and in a big way. Scientists have managed to create the world's first sheep-human hybrid at approximately 85 per cent sheep and 15 per cent human. The concept of producing these sheep-human hybrids for the purpose of organ farming may appear enticing at first, but these developments have the potential to have large effects even outside the medical community…       In 1996, genetic engineers managed to produce the first successful clone of a mammal: Dolly the sheep. Sheep geneticists did not make the headlines for a while, but now they are back and in a big way. Scientists have managed to create the world's first sheep-human hybrid at approximately 85 per cent sheep and 15 per cent human. This female human-sheep hybrid, or "Baa-bara", is the product of Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada. He believes that the procedure can create many organs for needy patients. "The two ounces of stem cell or bone marrow cell we get would provide enough stem cells to do about 10 fetuses," Zanjani said. "So you don't just have one organ for transplant purposes, you have many available in case the first one fails." Zanjani has spent about $12 million USD and seven years of his life working out the glitches of this cloning procedure, and presumably disposed six years worth of improperly mutated hybrids in the process. The concept of producing these sheep-human hybrids for the purpose of organ farming may appear enticing at first, but these developments have the potential to have...

Frozen Embryos

Since their introduction, modern techniques of artificial fertilization have presented a range of difficult moral questions, among which, emerging with exceptional urgency, are those connected with the cryopreservation of human embryos. Human embryos, conceived in vitro and in numbers exceeding the possibility of simultaneous transfer into the mother's body (so-called "surplus" embryos), are frozen to allow for possible repetition of the embryo transfer in the not infrequent case of failure on the first attempt or in those cases where it is postponed. At other times, embryos are frozen in order to be transferred into a surrogate mother who carries the pregnancy to term for another couple, or to give sufficient time for genetic examination of some of the embryonic cells for the purpose of transferring only high quality embryos through the elimination of those found defective, or lastly in order to store valuable living ceils for experimental use or other instrumental purposes. Techniques of cryopreservation were refined in the early 1970's in experiments with animal cells and only in the next decade applied to human embryos: up to then, embryos which were not transferred had been destroyed or used for research. These techniques, however, arc still very risky for the integrity and survival of the embryo, the majority of whom die or suffer irreparable damage in the process of freezing or subsequent thawing. Besides these immediate effects, recent studies on animal subjects indicate significant behavioural and morphofunctional variation in adults originating from frozen embryos. Notwithstanding such disturbing biomedical data, most existing legislation in this area places no limit on the number of embryos which may be produced for in...

UN General Assembly & Reproductive Cloning (12/03)

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY & REPRODUCTIVE CLONING — Following intensive negotiations among concerned delegations, the General Assembly decided [12/03] by consensus not to take action on two proposals before it on the question of an international convention on reproductive human cloning, and instead adopted a consensus agreement to include the item in the agenda of its 59th  session in 2004. If the total ban is passed [“International convention against human cloning”], the Assembly would strongly encourage States and other entities to direct funds that might have been used for human cloning technologies to pressing global issues in developing countries such as famine, desertification, infant mortality and diseases, including (HIV/AIDS). [58th  General Assembly, 72nd Meeting www.un.org,...

Stem Cells Examined in US Senate

STEM CELLS EXAMINED IN U.S. SENATE — Sen. Brownback (R-KS) conducted another hearing on stem cells, this time focusing on the embryonic stem cell controversy. The committee heard from ethicists and scientists, including FRC’s Dr. David Prentice. Embryonic stem cells, derived from the destruction of young human embryos, continue to show significant problems with tumor formation and inability to regenerate tissues, while adult stem cells show success after success in repairing damage from disease. Dr. Marc Hedrick of Macropore, a biotech firm, presented compelling testimony on the use of adult stem cells from liposuction fat to treat heart disease!   These proteins are exhibited by nearly all known cells, and allow the immune system to detect them and to launch an attack on foreign cells.  They found that human embryonic stem cells, just like the other cells they tested, exhibit MHC proteins.  The article says, “In conclusion, our results demonstrate that human ES cells can express high levels of MHC-I proteins and thus may be rejected on transplantation.”1 This means that “scientists hoping to use the cells to treat Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and other maladies will have to worry about transplant rejection.”2  It also flies in the face of the belief by many pro-human ES lobbyists and researchers that human embryonic stem cells are some miracle cells which the human immune system will not detect.  It is obvious that, just like most any other types of cell, these embryonic stem cells could provoke an immune system reaction if transplanted into a human body.  In addition, the procuring of these cells involves the destruction of human life and reduces human...

British Scientists Do NOT Want U.N. to Ban Human Cloning (8/04)

As early as 10/04, the UN will reconsider a proposal to ban all forms of human cloning. Professor Richard Gardner of the British Royal Society of Medicine said that the doctors group opposes a complete human cloning ban because it could limit the embryonic stem cell research that the U.K. has already allowed: “It is clear that if the UN bans all forms of human cloning, the UK, and other countries which currently permit carefully regulated therapeutic cloning, will not sign up to it” [BBC]. The USA has co-sponsored a full human cloning ban, authored by Costa Rica and backed by 60 other nations, that opposes the use of human cloning for both reproductive and research purposes and encourages U.N. nations to ban all cloning. [BBC, London, http://www.lifenews.com/bio446.html, 31...

Doctor Clones Cells From Dead Baby, Child, Man (8/04)

Controversial fertility specialist Panos Zavos revealed plans to clone a dead baby. The American doctor, who has been attacked for publicity-seeking by British experts in the field, claims already to have carried out 3 experiments on tissues culled from dead human beings.For an undisclosed fee from the parents, Zavos and his KY team inserted genetic material from a dead (died during surgery) 18-month-old child’s skin cells into a cow egg, where they continued to grow. The resulting embryos were then terminated. Tissues from a 33-year-old man and an 11 yr old girl named Katie (died in a traffic accident) were also used in the experiments. Cells from the man produced viable embryos that could have been implanted into a surrogate mother, had they been created using a human egg. Zavos in London: “This was not about creating a pregnancy, we are using cow eggs to refine our techniques. This is pure experimentation.” [http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/12889336?source=PA, M. Prigg, Evening Standard Science 31...

Singapore Allows Human Cloning for Embryonic Stem Cell Research (9/04)

Human cloning has been prohibited for reproductive purposes in Singapore. However, the “clone and kill” process condemned by pro-life groups is allowed and the human embryo must be destroyed in 14 days, according to a law passed 2Sept. Singapore, which has been attempting to attract stem cell researchers to the country, has some of the most lenient restrictions on biomedical research, and has recently spent over $1.8 billion for grants, tax breaks, and facilities for scientists. But such measures have also attracted researchers on the fringe of biotech, such as Alan Colman, who cloned “Dolly” the sheep; he moved to Singapore in 2002. Some parliament members expressed concern over allowing the cloning for “research” purposes, termed “therapeutic cloning”. Dr. Lily Neo warned the fellow MPs that therapeutic cloning “is a thin wedge to reproductive cloning” and that research should be closely monitored lest it be abused “by maverick scientists and researchers.” Neo suggested that successful adult stem cells, such as those collected from cord blood, be used in lieu of embryos. [http://www.lifenews.com/bio452.html,...

Congress Bans Patenting of Human Embryos (2/04)

Congress enacted the Weldon Amendment, which prohibits the patenting of human embryos. The law became effective 23Jan04. The powerful Biotechnology Industry Organization lobbied against the legislation because the biotech firms it represents are relying on patents to enrich their own profits, and to give private investors a return on their investment. This bill will make it more difficult for biotech firms to profit from cloning human embryos; it may also lessen the profit motive behind the research. Some researchers hope to create cloned human embryos with specific genetic traits, patent them and then collect royalties each time researchers use a “copy” of the patented embryo [according to Nat’l Right to Life News, 2/04; HLA Action News, Spring...

Cloning Archival Materials

UK ALLOWS HUMAN EMBRYOS TO BE CREATED WITH 2 MOTHERS & ONE FATHER.   The UK’s Human Fertilization/Embryology Authority has reversed a ban preventing scientists from creating embryonic children derived from the combined ova of two women with the sperm from a single father. The need to combine the ova from two women is argued to be a necessary means to prevent mitochondrial disease like muscular dystrophy being passed from a woman who carries the genetic trait to her offspring. By inserting the non-nuclear portion of the ovum from a woman free of the disease into the ovum of a woman who carries the disease, scientists argue they can prevent its transmission. Newcastle University Professor Doug Turnbull and Newcastle Fertility Centre scientific director Dr Mary Herbert are spearheading the controversial procedure. US scientists claimed to have used a similar procedure to ensure 15 children born to mothers with mitochondrial disease were born without the disease in 2001. Comment on Reproductive Ethics spokesman Josephine Quintavalle said, “This shows once again that the HFEA does not have any regard for public consultation and the views of the public,” according to a BBC report. “It is undesirable to create children in this way. It will shock the world. This is playing around with early human life.” [LifeSiteNews.com, 9Sept05, London,http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4228712.stm] FIRST HUMAN “CLONES” CREATED WITHOUT USE OF SPERM. The Roslin Institute, which also created Dolly the sheep, reported creating the first embryonic Humans without the use of sperm – from the genetic material of the mother alone. The group said they stimulated an egg to divide without the use of human sperm, to a...

Italy Bans Cloning

In 2/04, the Italian Parliament voted, 277-222, to ban most assisted reproduction. President Ciampi signed the bill, which became law on 19Feb. It forbids doctors in Italy to perform techniques i.e. artificial insemination using donated sperm.   Embryo freezing is outlawed, as are egg donation, surrogate motherhood and genetic analysis on early embryos before implantation. Assisted reproduction is limited to stable heterosexual couples: no single mothers/homosexuals allowed.     [NYT: 2Mar04, R.M. Henig is the author of "Pandora's Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive...