Human cloning has been used to produce early embryos, marking a “significant step” for medicine, say US scientists.
The cloned embryos were used as a source of stem cells, which can make new heart muscle, bone, brain tissue or any other type of cell in the body.
The study, published in the journal Cell, used methods like those that produced Dolly the sheep in the UK.
However, researchers say other sources of stem cells may be easier, cheaper and less controversial.
The Health-Care Survivor’s Comment
This story reminds me of what I wrote in response to a related story about a consultation by the HFEA in September 2012.
My personal view is that we should not take another catastrophic step towards genetically modified babies. For me, the problem with this idea is not the concept that these children would have three genetic parents, but that the scientific process will, undoubtedly, lead to unintended genetic mutations, which will, in turn lead to more disability, illness and disease, not less.
If you are in any doubt of the dangers, consider the effects of generally modifying food and farm animals, the true impact of which is still revealing itself to us. How much more tragic and terrifying would it be, if such a cascade of unknown and unstoppable consequences was to be unleaded, deep within the structure of human DNA?
There is nothing in either of these stories which suggests to me that such scientific developments should be welcomed. I am certainly not against the principle that scientific discovery should be encouraged, but I am in no doubt that the possibility of doing something cannot be the only consideration when scientists decide whether or not something should be done.