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Biotech

Cloning License for Dolly's Doc 290

Posted by Zonk
from the not-baaaaad dept.
Rollie Hawk writes "Ian Wilmut, leader of Dolly the sheep's team and Professor at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, has been given the green light by the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to start further cloning research. As a matter of fact, he is now a licensed human cloner. The license has a duration of one year and is the second of its kind given by Britain, the first country to officially sanction human cloning research. Research will be focusing on motor neurone disease (MND). The team hopes to perform cell nuclear replacement on the skin cells of MND victims in order to create stem cells, the jack-of-all-trades of the cell family and the supposed magic bullets for ailments ranging from Alzheimer's to paralysis.
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Cloning License for Dolly's Doc

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  • by beh (4759) * on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @05:52PM (#11611509)
    I am not sure, whether this is really such a grand idea -- yes, genetics
    and cloning hold enormous potential, but I think with the current
    knowledge of this subject there should be a moratorium on actual
    experiments (especially on human cells) until we learn more of the
    background of the whole thing - and especially, until we have some form
    of agreement on ethical standards about what we want to achieve and how
    far we are willing to go.

    (Note: this is not the "we should leave this to god argument" -- simply
    because I am agnostic. But somehow I think before we start "playing
    god", we should at least get to know whatever we can on a theoretical
    level, before we go about practical experiments on it and decide what
    should be allowed and what should be off limits... )
    • by lederhosen (612610) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @05:56PM (#11611572)
      >...but I think with the current
      >knowledge of this subject...

      How can we gain knowledge if we don't do research?
      • How can we gain knowledge if we don't do research?

        How can we learn nuclear physics if we don't test an atomic bomb?

        To put this other way, there are millions of species in planet earth that we can test cloning and genetic engineering with (even for therapeutic purposes). Why do we have to start with our own species? Remember we're talking about our kin. A human embryo could be tomorrow's doctor, musician, writer...

        If we don't care for human embryos now, what makes you think we will always care for other
    • by nuclear305 (674185) * on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:01PM (#11611644)
      " I am not sure, whether this is really such a grand idea -- yes, genetics
      and cloning hold enormous potential, but I think with the current
      knowledge of this subject there should be a moratorium on actual
      experiments (especially on human cells) until we learn more of the
      background of the whole thing - and especially, until we have some form
      of agreement on ethical standards about what we want to achieve and how
      far we are willing to go."


      Ok, well the most obvious argument is "How do we learn without doing research?" We already know the "theoretical level" ...which is why people want to pursue research to begin with.

      That aside, who decides on the ethical standards? Who decides when we've learned enough "background" to proceed with experiments? Historically speaking there is no way...there will always be people that disagree and there will always be those who think we should put something off until we have a better understanding.
    • How do we know if a thoery is valid if we are not allowed to test it? Expirments are a part of the scientifc process, without them, all your theories are just hypothesis.
    • with the current knowledge of this subject there should be a moratorium on actual experiments (especially on human cells) until we learn more of the background of the whole thing

      The best way to improve our current knowledge is to continue with these experiments, otherwise we are just sitting in limbo.

      until we have some form of agreement on ethical standards about what we want to achieve and how far we are willing to go.

      Surely the terms of the government granted license are an agreement on the ethical

    • I agree with some of your sentiment, but without knowing much of the established knowledge base, I'm not sure how practical or realistic your advice is. How far are we able to go at a theoretical level before we're just treading water? Are we there already? How far are these researchers planning to go? From the sound of it, I doubt they'll be trying to clone a human, though even that might depend on one's definition of "human," I suppose. How much can be learned from non-human cloning experiments? Have we r
    • Nah. Moratoriums, conferences, public "should we or shouldn't we" questions like these seem to do little to promote science.

      I'm software developer. When I'm unfamiliar with a subject, I tend to try things out, discover how they work, then get a basic working example built from scratch. To me, at least, I find this approach much more suitable then asking around, having other people tell me what is the best way, searching the web, and so on.

      Are embryonic sciences that much different; do scientists really ne
      • "To me, at least, I find this approach much more suitable then asking around, having other people tell me what is the best way, searching the web, and so on."

        But there's no ethical questions with that. That _is_ the best way to go from a research standpoint, but the question at issue is ethics.

        "Are embryonic sciences that much different; do scientists really need to hear what other people have to say before poking around, discovering how it works, researching it, get a basic example working?"

        Yes, becaus
    • I don't know. Why don't you ask those people with motor neuron disease he's trying to find a treatment for how they feel about the ethical implications.
      • My son would benefit greatly, but I think the ethical implications are more important. Why? Because if you fail to consider ethical questions, then things like using the disabled for experimentation becomes routine. One of our doctors tried to do that. It was clear that he wouldn't be able to survive the entrance criteria (required fasting for 48 hours), but the doctor wanted him to participate in the study.
      • By this logic, there is no need for impartial judges in the court system. We should just allow the victim to pronounce what sentence is warrented by the crime.

        We need impartial people to make the ethical standards, because in the moment, it's pretty tough to do what is right over what is immediatly expediant.
    • Honestly, I'm not sure there is an ethical way to do human cloning research that everyone will agree upon. The main problem is that all scientific research entails failure upon failure. This is unavoidable and when coupled with human elements (or animals for that matter), the issue of suffering enters the picture. Now onto this overlay your favorite metaphysical viewpoint and you've got a real puzzle to work out.

      These aren't always issues in the earliest stages of cloning research, but even here, if you st
      • "but I think that those who do it should act with the utmost respect and reverence for life which is probably what most in the life sciences do anyway."

        If you've had any experience with medical doctors, this is definitely not the case. Your local pediatrician will have respect and reverance, but the specialists and researchers generally do not.
      • and the time tested answer is to throw metaphysics to the wind. Metaphysics are unprovable by nature, and are at best nothing but complicated logical structures with minimal functional value. At worse they are existant in the colloquial dogmatic or emotional sense, meaning purely subjective. We should dismiss metaphysics, and actually look at the humanistic and scientific values, as weighed against the possible negative consiquences.

    • ethical standards about what we want to achieve and how far we are willing to go

      It is ethical to engage in research which may heal people suffering from horrible diseases. It is unethical to throw up roadblocks to such research based on vague fears about Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.

      Any questions?

      • Very succinct, very correct. People complain that a few cells devoid of sentience may suffer and so we have to put everything on hold? What about the suffering of untold millions of fully sentient humans? If suffering is to be the rallying point for the anti-research crowd, it should be subject to this test: if research-caused-suffering is less than suffering-alleviated-by-research, then do the research.
      • The question is, is it ethical to kill life and intentionally create deformed life in order to save other life? Specifically, creating and killing human life? At what point is something human?

        Remember the last time humanity did research on humans which were not considered "real" humans. I think we called it the holocaust.
        • Exagerate much? A handful of replicating cells is much different than an aware individual. Your on a slippery slope, and soon you must admit that every sperm is indeed sacred, and that menstration is murder. We're dealing with cells, not conscious entities. An embryo is not conscious. A germ/stem cell is not conscious either.

          The only leg you have left to stand on is potenciality, which is also a flawed arguement, since it leads down the same slippery slope.
      • by Gauchito (657370) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @07:23PM (#11612638)
        vague fears about Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.

        That's not the reason people object to this kind of research. The main question in this whole argument is the one that neither side can agree on: at what point do we start being a living human being, and the killing of that human being becomes murder? At conception or some arbitrary point later (e.g., brain is fully formed, a neuron grows, all fingers are there, etc.)? Every other point in this discussion stems from that one question, for which there seems to be no objective answer, because we don't have a clear, unanimous idea of what it actually means to be human.
      • It's not nearly as cut-and-dried as you believe. For example, a person could make the claim that by using embryonic stem cells to heal diseases caused by genetic defects, we are preventing natural selection from weeding out those genetic defects, causing more people to suffer from those diseases in the (very) long run.

        Also, some people believe that human embryos are human lives (and they don't have to be Religious to feel that way), and feel that sacrificing some lives for the prolonging of other lives is
    • That somehow these embryos are grown beyond their cellular stage into an actual fetus or beyond... and then cut up for testing. (Hey, it's just a clone, it doesn't feel nuthin...) But I don't see this happening here.

      Second that this research ends up developing some sort of "clone virus". (IE We engineer enhanced immune systems for cancer. The antibodies are so good that they go airborne and start attacking other humans who can't defend the attack unless they too have the enhanced systems... I think thi
    • by KalvinB (205500)
      I really don't like the idea of harvesting stem cells from embryos (but I'm not going to fight tooth and nail to stop the inevitable, we don't reject what the Nazis learned simply because of their methods, but we certainly don't condon their actions either) so what I'd like to see is science looking for ways to get stem cells by other means. We used to scratch the scalps on people with headaches to let the blood out to make the headache go away. Now we use Aspirine.

      Rather than trying to solve these probl
    • One of my best friends died three years ago, at the age of 28, of Motor Neurone Disease. Ironically enough he lived about a five-minute walk from the Roslin Institute - I used to drive past it on the way to his house.


      Go and ask his parents if they think research into MND is worth it.

    • I say let 'em do the cloning. We would probably be ages ahead of ourselves if it weren't for all of the people and lobbying groups against advancing science and technology in various fields. Weather manipulation, underwater climate control, cross-breeding of plants, unharmful pesticides, new forms of energy generators... You name it, there's a group of individuals somewhere trying to fight it. Even political and economical concepts get that same treatment. At the rate it's going, America will be far
    • It's happening. A better question, and actually germane to this story itself, is "will licensing cloning researchers help control abuses of the industry?". It's probably more effective than merely banning the abuses, or banning the practice altogether. It gives an outlet and encouragement to the very attractive cloning practices that are very clearly use of the technique, and not abuse. But I'd bet that Bill Gates has several clones growing somewhere - he knows they only get them right by version 3.0.
  • welcome (Score:5, Funny)

    by kevinx (790831) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @05:53PM (#11611530)
    I certainly welcome our new cloned human overlords..
    as long as they all look like the olsen twins.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't this story a dupe?
  • So..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Meostro (788797) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @05:57PM (#11611588) Homepage Journal
    The license has a duration of one year and is the second of its kind given by Britain, the first country to officially sanction human cloning research.

    So who got the first one?
  • by Spoonito (849497) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @05:58PM (#11611595)
    Clones are people two.

    10 print "clones are people" $d
    20 let $d = pun
    30 gosub hilarity
    • Speaking of clone rights,there's a good sci-fi book called Clone Hunter [amazon.com] which tells the story of a world where cloning is available but illegal, where clones become people without consciences. Anyway, it's a real interesting and exciting read (it's an action/adventure story), with a good political/moral commentary.
  • by saddino (183491) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:00PM (#11611642)
    As a matter of fact, he is now a licensed human cloner.

    Something tells me he wouldn't have a problem creating a fake ID if he really needed one.
  • Not human cloning. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    He has a license to clone human embreyos, not clone humans which would be an entirely different matter. The purpose being so he/his team can study diseases which effect motor neurons, by growing them from cloned embreyos using the material from a sufferor of motor neuron disease.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      so human embryos do not grow to become humans?

      Are you living on this planet or another one?
    • so.. if an embryo starts to become too much like a human is he obligated to kill it?

      The problem i have with theraputic cloning is that it's exactly the kind of cloning we shouldn't allow, being the microscopic (or in a particularly ghoulish world, full-size) equilvalent of having a baby to harvest its heart.

      I really don't understand why people opposed to reproductive cloning on some kind of moral argument can turn around and support theraputic cloning. I mean, so what if people want to have vanity babies
  • Oh noooo!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ryanvm (247662) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:05PM (#11611717)
    Oh crap! This is England's first step in building a clone army to conquer the world. I've had visions of this army and their teeth look like this [vampfangs.com].
  • I for one am against cloning. Imagine what would happen if it resulted in something like "Attack of the Clones" being played out all over the world.

    (Shudder). Just imagine the horror: a world in the grips of stale dialogue, bad acting, the lack of real suspense or characters you can care about...

  • by de1orean (851146) <ianNO@SPAMdeloreanrock.org> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:17PM (#11611877)
    the RIAA is watching these developments closely.
  • License to clone.

    Garg
  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:54PM (#11612310) Journal
    The poster is referring to embreyonic stem cells, which still haven't been proven to be any useful. I still say more adult stem cell research is needed, especially since I've heard things about experimental methods to cure Type1 diabetese using adult stem cells, and things about people pushing states (Mass. in particular) to fund embreyonic stem cell research to try and cure diabetese.

    Point is, of course, that I'm bitterly opposed to embreyonic research for the pure and simple reason that it's going nowhere while adult stem cell research is over 100 diseases and thousands of successful treatments into its life cycle, and holds all the same potentials. Both flavors have been getting something like 300 million greenbacks per year from NIH.
    • And of course, you are much more informed regarding which method is more promising than the actual scientists performing the research.
    • You are aware that new embryonic stem cell lines in the US cannot be researched by any organisation receiving federal funding right? (which is virtually all of them in this field)

      Since the existing lines are contaminated [bbc.co.uk] embryonic stem cell research has slowed badly in the US.

      Embyronic stem cells are far simpler to manipulate than adult stem cells into the type of cells you want, but effective research into them has slowed to a trickle in many countries, including the US, because of religious and politica
  • I'd be pissed. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mao (12237)
    I don't care what ethical/philosophical arguments anyone employs regarding cloning.

    I for one would be pissed if I realized that I am the cloned version of someone else.

    (It's probably impossible to create an EXACT clone; but still, I'd kick my original's ass, for he would likely be older than I am, and I enjoy beating up old people. Ok that last part was a joke.)
  • Note that the HFEA authority is only expected to provide permission - it hasn't been authorised for certain yet. Seems like they really wanted to be the first people to write a story about it and decided just to jump in anyway, and beat the rush.

    Reminds me of a line from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (cartoon) "[Angry voice] Who's idea was it to put the 6pm news on at 1:00?! [Changes to happy voice] It's brilliant - we'll get the jump on all the other networks!"

  • I applaud Britain being the first country to officially sanction this research. Here in the United States of Christian Fundamentalism we won't be seeing that happen for a while. Just don't get too far along with it before our corporations buy all your patents, or you might be added to our fearless leader's must-conquer list.

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