Dolly Creator Wants to Clone and Kill Human Embryos for Stem Cells

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 28, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Dolly Creator Wants to Clone and Kill Human Embryos for Stem Cells Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 28, 2004

London, England ( — The scientist who created Dolly the Sheep now says he wants to clone human embryos to obtain their embryonic stem cells for research. But detractors say the process will undoubtedly destroy hundreds of human lives for the unproven research.

After hundreds of failures, Ian Wilmut of Scotland’s Roslin Institute made Dolly the first cloned mammal from an adult in 1996. He says he has filed for a permit from the British government to clone human embryos.

He hopes to aid sufferers of motor neuron disease — Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease — by discovering how the debilitating condition develops.

"We owe it to the people who suffer from it and are going to suffer from it in the future to try and develop treatments for them," Wilmut told the Associated Press.

If the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) grants the license, it will be the second one issued by the British watchdog group for the controversial research. A team of scientists from Newcastle University were granted a license in August to clone human embryos.

Earlier this year, the Roslin Institute indicated it would apply for a human cloning license, but it has yet to do so.

Paul Tully of the British-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said Wilmut’s position for genetic engineering would result in "the deliberate and calculated destruction of human embryos."

"It was irresponsible of a respected scientist to support publicly a proposal that is profoundly unethical on so many levels," Tully added.

David Stevens, MD, director of the Christian Medical Association, agreed, saying, "To duplicate a living human being for the sole purpose of exploitative research and destruction is singularly morally unconscionable."

Dolly was finally created after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the "successful" result, Dolly, aged too rapidly and had to be euthanized.

Stevens said Wilmut should know from the failures of animal cloning that human cloning will result in the deaths of hundreds of tiny unborn human beings every time it is attempted.

"We know from animal cloning that the technical problems and dangers associated with cloning will never produce therapies that these researchers speculate could be applied to human beings," Dr. Stevens explained.

Adult stem cell research has already cured many or reduced the effects of debilitating diseases. Adult stem cells come from noncontroversial sources such as umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, fatty tissue, and the enamel of teeth.