February 12, 2004

Human cloning latest news

Dr Dixon comments to BBC, IRN, Press Association on latest news of human cloning breakthrough

Korean and US scientists today claim human cloning progress - Woo Suk Hwany of Soeul National University in Korea announced that he had succesfully cloned healthy human embryos, removed embryonic stem cells and grown them in mice. Just a couple of weeks ealier, Dr Panos Zavos made another of his frequent cloning announcements about attempts he and others are making to produce healthy cloned babies. The Korean and US teams are using human cloning technology to try to create stem cell lines which can be used to study disease.

While they are opposed to the abuse of human cloning technology to produce babes, their own cloning advances are making life easier for people like Zavos. Either way, most stem cell research is shifting rapidly away from human embryo cloning and use of embryonic stem cells, to adult stem cell development. Embryonic stem cells are controversial to use (many countries have banned the work), hard to grow, hard to control (can become cancerous), are rejected in the body unless made to order for an individual by cloning, or used in an immune protected site like the brain. That's why the makers of Dolly the Sheep ran out of human cloning money and went out of business. In comparison, there is no shortage of commercial funding for adult stem cell research which is showing spectacular results in treating mice and rats with stroke, heart and spinal cord damage.

Press Association copy:

"Dr Patrick Dixon, an author and expert in the ethics of human cloning, dismissed the idea that today’s announcement marked a breakthrough.

He said: “Except in tissues like the brain, there are huge problems with rejection of these embryonic stem cells if they are introduced into adults.

“It is very difficult for them to grow properly and very difficult to control them,” he said. "The idea that this offers a real breakthrough is based on a scientific nonsense.

“But in this supposedly spectacular benefit lies a serious risk that this technology will be abused.”

He cautioned that developments in these techniques would be “handing a gift” to controversial scientists such as Dr Panos Zavos and Clonaid intent on cloning human babies.

Dr Dixon said embryonic stem cell research was being overtaken by advances using adult cells. "Human cloning technology using embryonic stem cells is very last century. We do not need it.

“It is being overtaken rapidly by the spectacular advances in tissue repair using adult stem cells taken from the person who is unwell.

“Clinical trials are already showing results in people with heart failure while animal studies have shown successful repair in brain after stroke, heart muscle, spinal cord and other tissues.”

Human cloning latest news