Claims of New Human Cloning Technology Are Media Hype, Bioethicist Says

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 14, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Claims of New Human Cloning Technology Are Media Hype, Bioethicist Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 14
, 2008

London, England ( — The British media, with their American counterparts quickly following suit, promoted claims of a new human cloning method on Monday. The media reports claim the new technique is safer than the one used with Dolly the sheep, that resulted in hundreds of dead embryos and its euthanasia.

Scientists reportedly used skin cells from mice that are genetically engineered on the new IPS cells and turned into tissue that can be inserted into a mouse embryo.

The embryo supposedly develops as a mix of cells and turns into a chimeric mouse that has the same DNA as the adult mouse.

Robert Lanza, of the American-based Advanced Cell Technology, a biotech firm hoping to clone humans and start embryonic stem cell research trials on people, responded to the news.

He told the London Independent, "It’s unethical and unsafe, but someone may be doing it today."

"Cloning isn’t here now, but with this new technique we have the technology that can actually produce a child. If this was applied to humans it would be enormously important and troublesome," he said.

However, Wesley J. Smith, a noted author and attorney in the U.S who is an expert on bioethics, says he felt compelled to investigate the claims.

"It turns out the story is being driven by our old pal Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology–which means there is a political or fund raising purpose here," he explains.

"Lanza claims that IPSCs were used in this technique (of course, with Lanza, we can never be sure of his veracity)," he said.

"And it turns out this is an attempt to undermine support for IPSCs–perhaps because ACT has a big stake in cloning and embryonic stem cell research by planting seeds of fear that they will lead to easier reproductive cloning," Smith explained.

That could be a problem because the exciting use of IPS stem cells is an ethical process pro-life groups say is a good alternative to embryonic stem cell research.

Smith says Lanza tipped his hand on the ruse when he told the newspaper there are no laws against it and that the Catholic Church don’t realize the process has the potential for becoming a nightmare.

"This story is merely yet another example of the press letting Lanza and ACT promote their own PR agendas for their own purposes," he said.

Smith says the solution to the problem of this supposedly new cloning process being used is easy — support a ban on all forms of human cloning. However, Lanza’s firm is one of the biggest opponents of a human cloning ban in the U.S.

"So, let’s not fall for his scheme," Smith concludes. "IPSC research needs to proceed with our full support."