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Posted on January 18, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Here’s a bit of the reaction to the report in the journal Stem Cells (pdf) that Stemagen, a California company, has successfully created cloned human embryos by fusing an adult skin cell with an egg (a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer or SCNT).

+ Stemagen didn’t produce stem cells from the embryos, which has led to a somewhat skeptical reaction from other researchers. ACT’s ACT’s Robert Lanza tells the Washington Post, “I’d really like to believe it, but I’m not sold yet.” Harvard’s Douglas Melton tells the Boston Globe that Stemagen’s results are “nothing substantially new.” And George Daley, also of Harvard, tells the New York Times that he found Stemagen’s data “pretty convincing,” but that the skepticism would only go away after stem lines were created. But Tulane’s Donald Phinney tells the Globe that Stemagen’s results are “pretty important” and “This paper takes proof of principle work in nonhuman primates and applies it to humans.”

+ According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the reaction from the Center for Genetics and Society’s Marcy Darnovsky when she heard the news yesterday, “Yikes.” The California stem cell funding initiative allows this kind of research, but Darnovsky tells the the Union Tribune that “[Somatic cell nuclear transfer] isn’t a good use of that public money because of cost and the ethical concerns related to getting the necessary eggs. And Darnovsky tells the Washington Post that the iPS cell developments from late last year make cloning-based stem cell research “less justified than ever.”

+ Stemagen’s approach to obtaining eggs — asking women who were already donating for reproductive treatments — drew some praise. Wisconsin’s Alta Charo in the Washington Post: “The protocol entailed no marginal increased health risks to the egg donors, as they were already undergoing hormonal stimulation for non-research purposes.”

+ The Westchester Institute’s Fr. Thomas Berg in the San Diego Union Tribune: We’re manipulating and using human embryonic life as material for research. The only intent here would be to destroy the embryo once it’s been cloned. That just opens up a huge issue. Of Stemagen’s claims, the US Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Richard Doerflinger told the Washington Post: “It does not answer the ethical or social questions about the mass-production of developing human lives in order to destroy them. … It only tells us that these questions are more urgent than ever.” Doerflinger in Newsday: “We’ve been objecting to human cloning for any purpose for many years. We think there should be laws against it as there are in other countries, and as the United Nations has called for.”

+ About reproductive cloning, Stemagen’s CEO tells the Washington Post, “It’s unethical and it’s illegal, and we hope no one else does it either.”

Earlier on blog.bioethics.net:
+ Art Caplan on cloned human embryos
+ Where the presidential candidates stand on cloning

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