Human Cloning Firm Advanced Cell Technology Maybe Going Out of Business

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Human Cloning Firm Advanced Cell Technology Maybe Going Out of Business

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 25
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Advanced Cell Technology has been a thorn in the side of the pro-life movement for years with its efforts to engage in human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. But now, the biotech firm appears close to going out of business and it appears advances in ethical alternatives may be the reason why.

A Boston Globe report indicates the firm filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

The paper say ACT doesn’t have enough cash to continue operating after July 31 without raising significant amounts of money or cutting most of its operations. It reported $17 million in liabilities and only $1 million in cash on hand and assets.

That means it may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

The company’s stock, after it shot up to $8 a share following much-criticized press releases making cloning and stem cell research claims that were not entirely true or overstated, now trades for just 2.5 cents.

Embryonic stem cell research has had troubles in animal studies with immune system rejection issues and the formation of tumors, but, in February, ACT claimed it would begin experiments in humans this Spring. That never occurred.

The company also claimed to have created a new process of obtaining embryonic stem cells without destroying human embryos. Scientists were skeptical.

"They may have had some useful technologies, but people in the biotech community have learned not to make wild claims," Una Ryan, the former chair of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, told the Globe. "People want to know you are not just full of fluff and that you are going to deliver."

Noted bioethics attorney and author Wesley J. Smith also commented on the news.

"I have been very critical of Advanced Cell Technology, believing it to be a publicity seeking enterprise that used press releases to raise venture capital for morally problematic research into human cloning, embryonic stem cells," he said.

At thee same time, ACT "tried to manipulate the political system to create an environment that would be conducive to it receiving taxpayer dollars," Smith explained.

Smith says he thinks the advances in alternatives to embryonic stem cell research are hurting companies that engage in morally dubious and ineffective research like human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

"I think what killed ACT was the iPSCs. Once normal skin cells could be turned into pluripotent stem cells, the air began to leak out of the cloning balloon," he said. "ACT’s ‘breakthrough of the month’ routine (I exaggerate only a little) couldn’t match the reality that was happening in labs with iPSCs from Japan to America."

"It has lost its credibility–a commodity that is almost irreplaceable. Whatever the future holds for ACT, it is doubtful a press release can save it now," he concluded.

"And even if it remains afloat, it won’t be the same enterprise. And frankly, that is a good thing."


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