Thursday, January 24, 2008

Human Clones

I found this last week on the BBC news page, and it disturbed me because this is a serious step in man's attempt to play God.

US scientists say they have produced embryos that are clones of two men, in an attempt to produce patient-specific stem cells.

Researchers removed DNA from donated human eggs, and replaced it with DNA from the skin cells of two volunteers.

They produced embryos with genetic material that matched the men's, but did not go on to extract stem cells.

The group produced five embryos called blastocysts from 25 donated eggs. DNA fingerprinting proved that at least one of these was a clone.

"This constitutes technical progress," he [Professor Jack Price, King's College, London] said. "It shows that the approach using human embryos does still have promise and it does provide justification for continuing that avenue of research."

As far as I'm concerned, this is several steps too far, especially when there is ample evidence that embryonic stem cells just don't work. Scientists have proven that skin cells - heck, even snot cells - are more effective than embryonic stem cells. I disagree with Professor Price from London when he says that using human embryos still has promise. I don't believe that the embryonic stem cell route will ever be effective, but that scientists will insist on continuing so they will be able to receive the recognition for any scientific breakthroughs. They said this was only a small step because it used the same process to clone Dolly the sheep way back in the 90s. I think this is a step too far into increasingly dangerous territory as scientists continue their quest for the worldly and mundane at the expense of the innocent.


EDIT January 26

Related to this was a story I heard on the news yesterday morning about scientists who have completely recreated the DNA of ______ . (A bacteria or insect or a potato or something - a really simple life form). Nothing happened when they injected chromosomes into the DNA, which is good. Otherwise they would have just recreated life in a test tube. Which would be bad.

All in the name of science ...


K. Donahue said...

This is a perfect example of the growing secularization of morality from science. Scientists, like Professor Prince, are all too often concerned solely with the "how" of science. Rarely do scientists question the "why" of their discoveries and whether or not these experiments promote human flourishing. This recent discovery in embryonic stem cell research points to the need for an increase in dialogue between the humanities and the sciences.

kevin donohue said...

Science has become irrevocably caught up with technological progress. It's a headlong race for discovery and publication, that's mirrored by Western culture's emphasis on achievement and success. Science isn't the issue, it's a culture whose sole aim is making it "big", that's to blame. There can be no time for that dialogue because your peers won't stop, and you can't be caught behind the pack of progress. It's a headlong race.