"Scientists announced that they had restored movement to
paralysed mice by injecting stem cells into their spinal fluid"
Feb 2004: " Korean
Scientists claim to have cloned 30 human embryo's"
Aug 2004: "
British scientists get ok to clone human embryos"
Interview about stem cell therapy
Other Interesting Cloning Viewpoints
Below are a few of the viewpoints that were aired when the Korean
Scientists announced their work. The biggest negative to
embryonic cloning seems to be that it shouldn't be used for
reproducing cloned babies. Whilst there is much broader support for
therapeutic cloning (described below) some people still object
to this as well. The quotes should be read in the context of
an ethical debate.
"If you had Parkinson's and you were going to have stem cells
put into the brain you would want to know the source of them,
and the risks." Linda Kelly,
Parkinson's Disease Society
"We need to be very careful before saying this is a spectacular
breakthrough." Dr Patrick Dixon,
"To create a new human being with the intention of mutilating
and destroying it can never be justified in a civilised
society." Patrick Cusworth, Life
"I think we can have confidence also in their ethical approach."
Suzi Leather, UK Human Fertilisation
and Embryology Authority
"It is a complete vindication of the Government's position in
allowing stem cell research." Dr Ian
Gibson, House of Commons science and technology select committee
Linda Kelly is chief
executive of the Parkinson's Disease Society:
Linda Kelly said much more work is needed. It's a
very significant first step forward, but I would stress it is a
first step. What it does is give the potential for a sustainable
source of material. But it is some way before we have a change
of treatment. It could be many years yet. In Parkinson's the
cells in the brain involved in movement die, and the idea behind
stem cells is that they might be able to replace those cells.
But just because you have a source of them doesn't mean you have
the techniques to put them into the brain, or that then they can
actually last in the brain and produce the chemicals that are
involved in movement. In the UK we have very strict, open and
transparent legislation, and I think that is so important. If
you had Parkinson's and you were going to have stem cells put
into the brain you would want to know the source of them, and
the risks, as well as the benefits to you.
There are many areas to explore. Stem cells are important, but
they are not the only thing. It is important we continue to
research all the avenues because ultimately Parkinson's is
probably not going to be one condition, but a number of
different conditions, so we need a range of methodologies and
Dr Patrick Dixon, author of The Genetic
Revolution: It's an important announcement, but we
need to see it in context. It is actually very difficult to grow
embryonic stem cells, and they can go out of control quite
easily and can become cancers after being put inside people. So
we need to be very careful before saying this is a spectacular
breakthrough. Dr Dixon says less controversial technology could
be used And the other thing we need to understand is that
cloning human beings to produce embryos, and then taking those
embryos to bits to take tissue from them is actually looking
like a last century science. Most scientists who are interested
in stem cell research have moved away from embryonic stem cells,
and are using adult stem cells. We are seeing astonishing
progress using an alternative to embryos which is not
controversial, has no ethical problems and may well deliver many
of the same benefits if given enough funding. If I take a cell
from your body and fuse it with one of your own eggs and make an
identical cloned embryo of you it could be taken to bits for
medical research, or it could be put inside a mother to produce
your cloned twin. And the fact of the matter is that there are
all kinds of people who are intent on doing the second. They
want to use the results of the first for the second, and
inevitably they will succeed.
Patrick Cusworth, from the
anti-abortion charity Life: The fact that this is the
first group to provide evidence of their success in cloning
human embryos is nothing to be proud of. The potential for this
kind of experiment is horrific. In creating 30 tiny new human
beings - at the expense of 212 other attempts - these scientists
have demonstrated contempt for early human life. Dr Hwang has
claimed that, since it is his intention to use these embryos for
destructive research alone and that he is opposed to full
pregnancy cloning, his experiments are morally acceptable. They
are not. To create a new human being with the intention of
mutilating and destroying it can never be justified in a
Alas, that is now permitted in our country. Our government
insists that full pregnancy cloning will never be allowed, but
we may be sceptical about that promise. The only way forward is
to ban all forms of cloning.
Suzi Leather, chair, UK Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: It is a very
exciting advance and it has come from a reputable group in South
Korea. I think we can have confidence in their science. These
aren't cowboy cloners. And I think we can have confidence also
in their ethical approach. This is therapeutic cloning, which is
very different from reproductive cloning.
The scientists are trying to develop new therapies for
degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, such as diabetes,
which would involve tissue transplants of cells matched with the
patients needing them so that there is not a risk of rejection.
Such work would be permissible in the UK. We haven't had any
applications so far, but I would very much welcome an
application because I think the potential benefits are very
great. We should be clear that the benefits to patients are a
very long way away. This is a hugely important first step.
Dr Ian Gibson, chairman of the House of
Commons science and technology select committee. It's
a step forward in terms of producing stem cells. That is bound
to be good news for patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and
various other muscular disorders.
It is a complete vindication of the Government's position in
allowing stem cell research in this country. Even people like
Christopher Reeve - Superman himself - have acknowledged it is a
real plus. There is no justification for producing human embryos
(for reproductive cloning) and every justification for producing
stem cells for transplantation purposes.