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We can CLONE HUMAN BABIES now. Opinions?
Posted: 22 January 2008 09:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here it is, in the news.

We can clone human embryos now from human skin cells.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/17/AR2008011700324.html?hpid=moreheadlines
headline: Mature Human Embryos Created From Adult Skin Cells

Opinions? Thoughts?

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Posted: 22 January 2008 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The cloned cells were an experiment to show the ability of manufacturing stem cells for a person from his/her own skin cells.  The scientist who did it said the embyonic cells would be destroyed after a few days of cell division.  The headline “mature. . . embryos” is quite an oxymoron. LOL

It doesn’t bother me because it was bound to happen considering our progress in cell research.  Of course, it probably means that some wealthy people will have themselves cloned, train the child in their image, then leave all their assets to “themselves” when they die thus assuring for them (in their own minds) immortality. 

One thing we should realize, however, is that since the nucleous was transplanted into an ovum, the clone won’t be quite identical to the person because the mitochondrial genes will come from the woman who donated the ovum.   

Occam

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Posted: 22 January 2008 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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And actually, there are some interesting recent findings in epigenetics suggesting that even with identical nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, there is difference in the expression of certain genes, which increases over time. So with that and environmental factors, even identifcal twins aren’t identical, though they’re a lot more alike than two people not homozygotic in origin.

I can certainly see ethical issues in the distance with the idea of making whole humans from sloughed off skin cells, but I see it as highly unlikely to happen. I think more practical, and ethically simpler, practices like growing tissue for autologous transplant are a lot more likely.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This is outstanding. I am quite glad to hear of it. I am not surprised because it was going to happen eventually. I fear that the religious right will not let this particular research go too far. I would like to see organs cloned specifically for those that need them.

Brandt

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Posted: 22 January 2008 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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So how far away from Jurassic Park are we?  Or maybe Neogere park?  I remember hearing a report on NPR about harvesting the DNA from Mamoth hairs.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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That could be fun too. Could I get a pot-bellied mammoth?

Brandt

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Posted: 22 January 2008 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It would be interesting to hear the right-to-life views on whether skin cells are now considered “living” and not to be “murdered.”

I hope they don’t get it into their heads to outlaw my loofah.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hmmm.  Never thought of that, A_P.  Since something like 70% of household dust is dead skin cells, does that mean the Fundamentalists are going to try to have all homes declared religious monuments? LOL

Occam

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Posted: 22 January 2008 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dusting: the new death-penalty crime!  LOL

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Posted: 23 January 2008 12:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Oh geez.  You’re right.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 23 January 2008 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Freedom through faith? That is scary. Sadly we have already seen how a person holding that kind of idea can get into the Oval Office.

Brandt

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Posted: 23 January 2008 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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mckenzievmd - 22 January 2008 12:47 PM

I can certainly see ethical issues in the distance with the idea of making whole humans from sloughed off skin cells…

I’ve never understood why human cloning is such a big deal ethically.  Who cares if one person’s DNA is identical with another’s?  They’re still two distinct persons with distinct personalities, different histories, etc.  For that matter, identical twins are natural “clones” of each other, aren’t they?  Who cares?

The only real ethical issue I see is that the science isn’t ready for human reproduction, and probably won’t be for decades.  It would be tragic if human clones were produced in large numbers, only to find out five or fifty years later that there are unforeseen medical problems as a result of the cloning process.

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Posted: 23 January 2008 08:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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It seems to me that cloning is a less important consequence of easy conversion of skin cells to stem cells.  The next step is to cause those stem cells to convert to spermatozoa.  That would allow humans to dispense with males entirely and use the transformed skin cells of one woman to impregnate another woman.  All the offspring would have a double X chromosome so would be female, but genetic diversity would still be maintained. 

At least we wouldn’t have anyone complaining about having a woman president.

Occam

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Posted: 24 January 2008 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Yes, but who will take out the garbage?

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Posted: 24 January 2008 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Ron,

Well, while they don’t worry me too much at this point, I wouldn’t say there are no ethical issues. You raise a good one, which is what if there’s something we don’t know, and we create humans who suffer because of it? Also, there are concerns about the welfare of children created as clones because they might be seen, irrationally I agree, as less than autonomous individuals. We all struggle as parents not to project our goals, desires, regrets, etc onto our children’s lives. Would that be even worse if the child was our clone? Would people make children literally in their own image. As I said above, I doubt we’re just going to leap willy-nilly into producing batches of clones, and I remember many of the same issues were raised when in vitro fertilization started, and that’s a routine procedure now that all but the fundies see as ethically uncomplicated, so I suspect we’ll be able to deal with the issues that the practice does raise.

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Posted: 24 January 2008 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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There are biological reasons why sexual reproduction is better than asexual reproduction, and therefore favored by most animals. This biological instinct (because that’s all it is) is probably why we see cloning as a “step back.”

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