By Wesley J. Smith
The junk biology is flying in the media’s descriptions of the now accomplished human cloning. This next example comes from the Wall Street Journal’s Gautam Naik. From the ridiculously titled, “Experiment Brings Human Cloning One Step Closer:”
Scientists have used cloning technology to transform human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, an experiment that may revive the controversy over human cloning. The researchers stopped well short of creating a human clone. But they showed, for the first time, that it is possible to create cloned embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the person from whom they are derived.
NO. THEY EXPLICITLY CREATED A HUMAN CLONE! That’s what SCNT cloning does; creates a cloned embryo. A cloned embryo–like a natural embryo–is an individual organism, a member of its (in this case, human) species.
Once the SCNT is done, the cloning is over. After that, the question becomes not whether to clone, but what to do with the embryo that was created through the cloning process. These scientists destroyed the embryos and derived stem cell lines.
In fact, don’t take my word for it. Let’s have the authors of the paper describe it. From the Cell paper:
Most embryos…formed one or two pronuclei at the time of removal from TSA, whereas a slightly higher portion of embryos cleaved…suggesting that some SCNT embryos did not exhibit visible pronuclei at the time of examination… Most cleaved embryos developed to the eight-cell stage…but few progressed to compact morula…and blastocyst..stages. Activation of embryonic genes and transcription from the transplanted somatic cell nucleus are required for development of SCNT embryos beyond the eight-cell stage…Therefore, these results are consistent with the premise that our modified SCNT protocol supports reprogramming of human somatic cells to the embryonic state.
Media: Get it right, or don’t get it at all!
Human Cloning Obfuscation 3
By Wesley J. Smith
I now see that the old dishonest game is well afoot: Biotech types and media pretending that human cloning isn’t really human cloning unless a baby is born. The cloning breakthrough is instead being spun as skin cells into stem cells! As if it were induced pluripotent stem cells, which really do turn skin into stem cells.
But back to the mendacity. A story in News.Com.Au–which runs stories from several Australian newspapers celebrates the cloning breakthrough because it means no embryos are used in the process! From the story, “Embryonic Stem Cell Made From Skin:”
US researchers have reported a breakthrough in stem cell research, describing how they have turned human skin cells into embryonic stem cells for the first time. The method described on Wednesday by Oregon State University scientists in the journal Cell, would not likely be able to create human clones, said Shoukhrat Mitalipov, senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. But it is an important step in research because it doesn’t require the use of embryos in creating the type of stem cell capable of transforming into any other type of cell in the body.
Doesn’t require the use of embryos? IT MAKES EMBRYOS TO BE USED! From the paper:
Most embryos…formed one or two pronuclei at the time of removal from TSA, whereas a slightly higher portion of embryos cleaved…suggesting that some SCNT embryos did not exhibit visible pronuclei at the time of examination… Most cleaved embryos developed to the eight-cell stage…but few progressed to compact morula…and blastocyst…stages. Activation of embryonic genes and transcription from the transplanted somatic cell nucleus are required for development of SCNT embryos beyond the eight-cell stage…Therefore, these results are consistent with the premise that our modified SCNT protocol supports reprogramming of human somatic cells to the embryonic state.
Repeat after me: Human SCNT creates a human embryo through asexual means. It doesn’t create stem cells. The cloning is completed when the SCNT is accomplished. After that, there is no more cloning. The only question is what you do with the living human embryo you have manufactured.
Human Cloning Obfuscation 4
By Wesley J. Smith
The Los Angeles Times has waded in to the junk biology game, assuring us that no embryos are threatened in human cloning–WHEN THE WHOLE POINT OF HUMAN CLONING IS TO CREATE AN EMBRYO!
From the editorial, “The Specter of Human Cloning:”
The team at OHSU [Oregon Health and Science University], which disclosed its work in a paper published online by Cell, created embryonic stem cells by replacing the nucleus in an unfertilized human egg with the nucleus from a skin cell, then harvesting the resulting stem cells. This long-sought technique may eventually let doctors create replacement cells for a wide variety of tissues from bits of a patient’s own skin. One advantage to this approach is that, unlike much of the initial work on stem cells,it doesn’t require the destruction of human embryos. That practice drew fierce opposition from some religious leaders and right-to-life groups, although their criticism has faded as researchers switched to adult stem cells and, more recently, regular cells reprogrammed into stem cells through genetic engineering.
Some critics continue to argue that it’s unethical to manipulate the genetic makeup of human eggs even if they’re unfertilized, and others warn about potential harm to egg donors. The biggest ethical issue for the OHSU team, though, is that it artificially created a human embryo, albeit one that was missing the components needed for implantation and development as a fetus.
So it isn’t an embryo, but is it?
Pay close attention: Dolly came from an “unfertilized egg” and became a sheep. Before that, she was a sheep embryo and a sheep fetus. The act of cloning does not get the egg to create stem cells, it produces an embryo. After that, the cloning is over and the question becomes what to do with the embryo, NOT WHAT TO DO WITH THE UNFERTILIZED EGG!
As to the question of reproductive cloning: The researchers haven’t tried to bring a human baby to birth. They note that they have also not been able yet to bring a cloned monkey embryo to birth. That doesn’t mean they won’t. It’s all just a matter of technology now. Indeed, until lately, you couldn’t make human cloned embryos. Now scientists can.
The Times argues in favor of a ban on reproductive cloning, but permitting research cloning to proceed:
Still, the federal government needs to set rules that would stop researchers in this country from crossing the line between generating stem cells and trying to bring a cloned embryo to life. Adding a clear prohibition would help assure the public that stem cell research should be embraced, not feared.
AAUGH! The cloned embryo is already alive!
Here’s the strategy: Big Biotech is always willing to prohibit that which they cannot yet do. But they want authority to conduct the research they can do, which will eventually lead to being able to do what they can’t, at which point the prohibition is revoked because now “society is ready.”
Bottom line: If you want to prevent the eventual birth of a cloned human baby, the only way to do that is prohibit human SCNT.
Editor’s note. These columns appeared on Wesley’s blog.