[QODLink]
Inside Story

Back to the future: Cloning human stem cells

Will a new scientific achievement to produce human stem cells eventually lead to human cloning?

Last Modified: 17 May 2013 17:01
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

In a major step forward in science, biologists have finally managed to create human stem cells through cloning. Some say it advances the search for medical treatments, others call for new laws to prevent cloning for ethical reasons.

Whether or not this has any impact medically remains to be seen, because there are other methods for generating these
stem cells.

Lyle Armstrong, a doctor and senior lecturer at the Institute of Genetic Medicine

The first attempt at cloning took place over fifteen years ago. In 1996, Dolly the sheep was the first animal to be cloned by scientists in Scotland.

Since then, the process has been carried out on dogs, mice and other animal species. Now, scientists in the US have used similar techniques, which created Dolly, to produce embryos in order to clone human stem cells.

"The technique isn’t new – the results are," reports Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher. "Microscopic genetic material was taken from an adult cell. It was then inserted into an egg whose own DNA had been removed. This creates human embryonic stem cells, which are capable of becoming any of the more than 200 types of cells that make up a person. That’s important because those cells could be used to treat devastating conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, heart disease or Parkinsons."

Many experts say the new research using human embryonic stem cells cannot be used to clone humans.

An alternative and far less controversial way of creating stem cells is already available. It involves reprogramming mature cells, which are often taken from the skin. And it allows scientists to sidestep ethical issues because there is no need to use embryos.

So, should we be using the technology to clone human stem cells? How important a breakthrough is this new scientific achievement and can it eventually lead to human cloning?

Inside Story, with presenter Ghida Fakhry, is joined by guests: Lyle Armstrong, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, University of Newcastle upon Tyne; Josephine Quintavalle, the director and co-founder of Corethics, an organisation that comments on reproductive ethics; and David King, the director and founder of Human Genetics Alert.

"I think we're whipping a dead donkey here, this is yesterday's science and I think they could close what they are doing there in the United States and focus on where the real future lies in the area of regenerative medicine ... We can do this, do the patient specific stem cell without having to clone a human embryo."

- Josephine Quintavalle, the director and co-founder of Corethics

466

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.
join our mailing list