Ian Wilmut Scuttles Cloning Research

You read it right the first time, folks.

Ian Wilmut, the cloner of Dolly the sheep, is giving up on human cloning in favor of stem cell regression, wherein one takes an adult cell and reprograms it into becoming an embryonic-like stem cell. (A briefer overview can be seen here.)

It looks like Dr. Hwang’s fraud shook up Dr. Wilmut’s lab and they never quite got over that. And while Dr. Wilmut’s announcement came out on the heels of some monkey cloning work, where a rhesus monkey was cloned using a skill cell–this is the novelty, where clone was derived from an adult cell, not an embryonic stem cell.

The article does a good job of pointing out the numbers needed to do that cloning:  304 eggs were needed to make 2 cloned embryonic stem cell lines, one of which had chromosomal abnormalities. The cloned embryos’ quality was poor and attempts to implant them into a female to carry to term did not go over well: no pregnancy got to 25 days out of 77 tries.

Short of the biological colonialism that Wesley Smith has spoken about, I doubt that we’ll be able to cough up hundreds of eggs to do this sort of work on humans. While we could eventually (hypothetically speaking) get to an efficient cloning method, the research needed to get there would require truckloads of eggs. We would need to harvest the eggs for the research from (scant) volunteers or paid (most likely poor) women would have a huge price tag, and I doubt folks have the will to do that. Especially since we have other, better options, as Dr. Wilmut has determined for himself.

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  1. From Skin Cells induced to become embryonic-like cells @ Ales Rarus on 26 Nov 2007 at 8:16 pm

    […] 26th, 2007 by Jerry We now know more of the reason why Ian Wilmut left the human cloning research behind. Researchers from two labs (Yamanaka in San Fran. and Japan, Thomson in Madison)  have induced […]

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