California Biotech Company Makes First Cloned Human Embryos

Here we go again. The Boston Globe reports:

Scientists at a little-known California biotechnology company today claimed to have cloned a human embryo theoretically capable of yielding stem cells, but fell short of generating the avidly sought blank slate cells through the process.

The work by Stemagen Corp. won only faint praise from top figures in the field, who said that though the claim appears supported by the research, this simply provides more evidence that humans can be cloned, like sheep or mice. At least one European laboratory has already cloned human embryos, although to a less advanced state, using a different process, and with less scientific certainty than that described by the La Jolla-based company in the somewhat obscure journal Stem Cells.

The lead scientist at Stemagen, however, called the work an advance toward the goal of creating new lines of "true" embryonic stem cells using a process know as somatic cell nuclear transfer, or therapeutic cloning.

"No other scientific group has documented the cloning of an adult human cell, much less been able to grow it to blastocyst stage," said Andrew J. French, Stemagen's chief scientific officer and lead author of the research.

A blastocyst is an embryo about five days old and containing 50 to 200 cells. This is the stage at which stem cells -- capable of forming any of the body's 220 cell types, including blood, bone, or nerve tissue -- can be culled for research or therapy, a process that destroys the embryo.

The research drew criticism from religious groups opposed on moral grounds to using embryos for scientific research.

Leading stem cell scientists not involved in the work described Stemagen's research as seemingly solid, but not especially useful since it failed to forge stem cells.

University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan notes:

Why do scientists need to clone embryos to get stem cells? Didn't we spend the last days of 2007 rejoicing that scientists had found ways to create stem cells using methods that do not rely on embryo destruction of any kind?

With the appearance of some new scientific tricks to get adult cells to act more embryo-like, scientists, the president and a host of pundits declared the end of the long stem cell research battle. Not so fast. Not everyone thinks reprogramming adult cells to make them act like embryos is going to work. If you want to build your own repair kit to fix damaged heart muscle, torn nerves, severed spinal cords or worn-out joints, then cloning from your own healthy cells still strikes many as the way to go.

The California company is among those who see human cloning as the best source of stem cell repair kits. It's too soon to tell if they are right.

The stem cell wars may be about to heat up again. Watch for presidential hopefuls to weigh in on this issue.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Elemenope||

    But, I imagine, the FDA hasn't approved *them* for good eatin'.

  • ||

    The bad news is that they have cloned humans.

    The worse news is that they've cloned GWB.

  • jackanapestarian||

    Stemagen Corp.

    If I ever get into the people business I will name my company JizzGen.
    Different science of course but I like the way it rolls off the tongue.
    The name, you pervs.

  • ||

    The stem cell wars may be about to heat up again. Watch for presidential hopefuls to weigh in on this issue.

    I was thinking about that as I was reading the article.

  • Jane||

    Oh my God, this is fucked up. We can't allow this, there has to be a law against this because it is wrong because it is fucked up.

  • Elemenope||

    Sometimes it's hard to tell when someone is kidding. For example:

    "Oh my God, this is fucked up. We can't allow this, there has to be a law against this because it is wrong because it is fucked up."

    Sarcasm, or panic?

  • ||

    From Jane? Feigned panic in the hopes of stirring the soup. Embryo soup, that is. Pass the saltines!

  • Biff\'s World||

    "Pass the saltines!"

    Oyster Crackers are a better pairing.

  • Elemenope||

    For my part, clones are a touch more creepy than twins. Now, don't get me wrong; I think that twins can be damned creepy. But still, seriously, there are more fucked up things (like artificial animal hybrids) to give a damn about.

  • ||

    The stem cell wars may be about to heat up again. Watch for presidential hopefuls to weigh in on this issue.

    IOW, expect some self serving, sanctimonious, ignorant blather. That's OK. I'm used to it.

  • Urkobold™||

    CAN WE EAT CLONED HUMANS? IS THAT OKAY? JUST WONDERING, NOT PLANNING ON BUILDING A CLONED HUMAN RANCH OR TRADEMARKING THE WORD "SOYLENT."

  • ||

    For my part, clones are a touch more creepy than twins.

    Identical twins are clones.

    Saltines, oyster crckers? Nah, cheddar goldfish!

  • ||

    I think that twins can be damned creepy.

    Creepier - identical twin clowns.

  • Elemenope||

    de stijl --

    Almost. The difference is that a clone is taken from an already weathered host, and hence the DNA has suffered various levels of battering associated with life (oxidation, insertion and deletion errors, etc.) such that the DNA of the clone is not identical to the DNA of the progentor as it was at the moment it was conceived. Identical twins, on the other hand, divide early on in mitosis, yielding two undamaged copies.

  • Bingo||

    Twins only have half a soul!!

  • Russ 2000||

    Why do scientists need to clone embryos to get stem cells?

    Cost?

  • ||

    Conjoined, gay, cloned twin clowns really scare me.

  • ||

    What's the opposite of Christopher Reeve?







    Christopher Walken.

  • Wondering||

    Is it for real this time, or another Raelian hoax?

  • ||

    The Raelians are gonna be pissed.

  • Taktix®||

    Conjoined, gay, cloned twin clowns really scare me.

    With laser beams attached to their heads?

  • ||

    Oh, goddammit.

  • x,y||

    What's the opposite of Christopher Reeve?







    Christopher Walken Alive.

  • T||

    Human clones + FFW = Stormtroopers.

  • Frothing Minion of URKOBOLD||

    mmm. fetus omelet.

    *reaches for Dave's Insanity Sauce*

  • ||

    Oh, how the world delights in killing cloning us. ::sheds tear::

  • Minion||

    oh blow it out yer ass, "unborn".

  • ||

    however, by cloning killing me, you're doing yourselves a favor.

  • Still Frothing||

    mmmmm. Demon Stollen with Hot Chocolate.

  • ||

    What's the opposite of Christopher Reeve?



    Christopher Walken Alive Unwormy.

  • ||

    Don't have an ass, "minion", that's what my umbilical cord is for.

  • ||

    With laser beams attached to their heads?

    And with dogs with bees in their mouths so when they open their mouths they shoot bees at you.

  • ||

    Don't have an ass, "minion", that's what my umbilical cord is for.

    I thought the umbilical cord was there so it'd be easier for the abortionist to yank you out and suck out your brains.

  • ||

    As Stephen Sondheim so presciently noted:

    They're already here.

  • Unfertilized Egg Comedian||

    Funny thing happened on my way through the birth canal....

  • ||

    I would say someone should suck your brain out, but you can't suck something out if it's not in there to begin with. Bitch-ass hobag!

  • ||

    Bitch-ass hobag!

    Is that Paul's Letter to the Ephesians?

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    The cloned embryo must've been a black child or Reason wouldn't have blogged it.

    Next post will link cloned black children to the Ron Paul Newsletter.
    ----------

    Matt Welch is a vile racist.

  • Ventifact||

    Jamie -- no, it's not from one of Paul's Letters, it's from one of Paul's newsletters.

  • Ventifact||

    Don't have an ass, "minion", that's what my umbilical cord is for.



    Ahh, but did you realize amniotic fluid comes from fetal urine? Or did you think it somehow disappeared when you let loose in there...

    Maybe that's why it's so natural for kids to pee in pools...

  • ||

    If I take part of me and turn it into something that is still "me" why does anyone else have any say in this. That's essentially what Wood did. If he uses part of him to heal another part of him, I say no one should stop him.

  • ||

    Alec Baldwin wants to know, via a heartwarming piece at Huffingtonpost, Are you eating cloned beef?" My reaction? Oh no! Not Arec Bardwin!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement