Comments: "British team takes first step to cloning human embryos"

Irving News Comments
Copyright October 20, 2004
Reproduced with Permission


1. Any kind of "nuclear transplantation" using any kind of human cell is human cloning -- regardless of the "purposes".

2. Using "eggs" (oocytes) -- germ line cells -- as the source of the nucleus is performing germ line cloning for eugenic purposes.

3. In any "nuclear transplantation", the "stem cells" ultimately derived from the human embryos cloned would cause rejection reactions in the patients because of the presence of foreign mitochondrial DNA from the enucleated egg.

4. To use somatic or germ line cells from patients with genetic diseases for nuclear transplantation is to purposefully clone genetically disabled human beings, who will be allowed to develop to the blastocyst stage and then killed to "study" the genetics involved.

5. Using oocytes of "awful quality" hardly engenders confidence in the use of any stem cells derived from the cloned human beings.

6. Great Britain still hangs on desperately to their "pre-embryo" myth in its legislation on both cloning and stem cell research. But there is no such thing as a "pre-embryo", and one wonders how much longer they can get away with this scientific fraud. Further, if they are "informing" the women at IVF infertility clinics who are donating their "eggs" that (a) "nuclear transplantation" is not cloning but just "stem cell research", or that (b) the immediate and subsequent products of "nuclear transplantation" are just "pre-embryos" (or if they define an "embryo" as "just a ball of cells" rather than as a living human organism), then these women at IVF infertility clinics are precluded from giving legally or ethically valid informed consent.

7. Hopefully Great Britain has clearly and unambiguously assured any patients receiving any such "stem cells" that they will have competent and free follow-up medical care should they experience any physical or psychological harm (or death) because of the injection of such "stem cells" for their "therapies".
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 20/10/2004)

British team takes first step to cloning human embryos

British scientists have begun an attempt to create Europe's first cloned human embryos.

As the United Nations discusses a ban on all such research today - one that the UK would never sign and ratify even if it was agreed - a team in Newcastle upon Tyne has conducted experiments that mark the start of its human cloning effort.

The work, which is bitterly opposed by pro-life groups, will place the UK at the forefront of research to create a new generation of medical treatments using cloning to grow a potentially unlimited supply of a patient's own "stem cells" to treat a vast range of diseases, from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's.

The Newcastle team - Prof Alison Murdoch and Dr Miodrag Stojkovic - is based at the Centre for Life.

In August, they were given permission by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to study how to clone microscopic human embryos and use them as a source of stem cells, which can turn into any of the 200 types in the body.

Yesterday Dr Stojkovic said that he had begun to use spare eggs, left over from IVF treatments.

"I have done the first manipulation with human eggs," he said.

However, the eggs were not in a suitable state - with all the DNA in an easy-to-remove lump - for nuclear transfer, the cloning process. Prof Murdoch admitted that, although her team at the Newcastle NHS Fertility Centre has access to as many as 2,000 human eggs each year, they had a "huge mountain to climb" to use these eggs, which are a day or two old. "The quality is pretty awful."

But Dr Stojkovic said he was still confident that the first nuclear transfer - the actual process of cloning - will take place this year.

Prof Murdoch said she had also been reassured by the Government that the work could continue, no matter what the UN decides this week.

The overall aim of the original cloning application submitted in February - to develop a treatment for diabetes - was questioned by an HFEA committee and the team was given permission only to clone normal cells.

Now the authority is considering allowing the Newcastle team to clone cells taken from a person with Type 1 diabetes to increase understanding of the disease and to replace the use of animals in testing drugs. A decision is expected in a few weeks.

When the cloning licence was granted to Newcastle in August, Josephine Quintavalle of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics (Core), questioned whether it was proper for the head of a fertility unit that would provide eggs for cloning - Prof Murdoch - also to submit the application to use them in cloning.

In response to this concern over what she called a theoretical conflict of interest, Prof Murdoch said she now no longer held the HFEA licence for the unit, which had passed to Dr Jane Stewart, though she remained head of the department.

The Newcastle Human Embryonic Stem Cell Group has launched a funding appeal to raise around 10 million to accelerate its research.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004

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