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Jay Currie

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5/22/2005

Therapeutic Cloning: Sooner than you think....

Korean scientists have used cloned human embryos to derive tailor-made stem cells, a breakthrough with dramatic implications for the development of useful therapies that could help shift the debate over human cloning.

The researchers derived stem cells from patients with spinal cord injury, a congenital immune disorder and juvenile diabetes. The advance, announced Thursday, raises the stakes in the political and ethical argument surrounding embryonic stem-cell research. Once a pie-in-the-sky possibility, human cells now exist that could theoretically be transplanted back into patients without the fear of immune rejection, since as cloned cells they would be a genetic match.
wired
This research is illegal in the US and at the margin in Canada. The net result of which is that Korea has stolen the march.
To perform cloning, scientists remove the nucleus from an egg and replace it with a cell from the person to be cloned, often a skin cell. Typically, scientists suck out the nucleus using a hollow needle, but the Korean team instead made a small tear in the egg and gently squeezed out the nucleus. They inserted a skin cell through the tear, then jolted the cells with an electric shock to fuse the cells and begin cell division.
wired
This does not sound much like human conception to me which may be a way out for legislators faced with a potentially very beneficial technology and opposition from groups whose ethical systems simply cannot comprehend a difference between cell division and life.