Therapeutic cloning – one step ahead?


Researchers from the New York Stem Cell Foundation and Columbia Medical University, have successfully cloned human embryonic stem cells using human eggs. This process, similar to that which created Dolly the sheep, has never been tried with human material before this.

The team injected DNA from patients into unfertilized human eggs, allowing the DNA material to develop into cells. Though the cells generated in the research were unstable and abnormal, the procedure represents a huge leap in using a patient’s own genetic material to generate stem cells. If found feasible, it could lead to generation of cells that have a very small chance of being rejected by the patient’s immune system.

This particular study may also show the way forward to creating patient-specific cells, without involving donor eggs. The New York Stem Cell Foundation researchers said that this may happen in the “not-too-distant” future.

While these findings have caused cheer in many quarters, scientists who’re opposed to human cloning feel that this method is right at the centre of an ethical minefield. Their main opposition is to the use of human eggs, which may exploit women and their health.


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