Thursday, October 6, 2011

Human cloning in the news again

On Wednesday, the Washington Post and a few other papers reported on research out of New York in which researchers attempted to create cloned human embryos and then kill them for their stem cells. After failing to create a cloned embryo who could survive long enough to be killed for her stem cells using regular cloning techniques, scientists at the New York Stem Cell Foundation decided to forego the step of removing the egg's nucleus. This means they created human embryos with 69 chromosomes instead of 46. Since the cells have an abnormal number of chromosomes, they could never be used to treat patients.

The scientists paid $8,000 each to 16 women in order to obtain 270 eggs.
Some researchers, however, questioned the usefulness of the research.

"These are grotesquely abnormal cells, so they have no clinical applications. Even scientifically they are of questionable value," said Maureen L. Condic, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah.

A political cross section of scientists, women's health advocates and bioethicists also expressed concern about paying women for the millions of eggs that would be demanded if the work ever led to treatments for common diseases. Egg donation requires risky hormone injections.

"I do have some very serious concerns about such wholesale solicitation of young women for their eggs at such very attractive prices," said Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, a women's health guide.


Wesley Smith has some thoughts on this research and story.