Human Cloning Masquerades as Gene Therapy: Killing two birds With One Stone
“The fact is that this research study is more of a human cloning experiment than a gene therapy experiment. Basically, this is human cloning experimentation with a twist of gene therapy” says spokesperson from WATCHDOG ON SCIENCE. “All the cloning techniques used in this experiment are the exact procedures used to clone a human being. The only difference is that they are using the nuclear DNA from an early staged embryo instead of from an adult. This embryonic DNA is then inserted into an enucleated human donor egg to form a human clone. The human clone is grown to six days old and then destroyed.’
The driving force behind using this technology does not appear to be linked to gene therapy per se. Despite the fact that there are about 40 different mitochondrial disorders, the incidence of children borne with mitochondrial disorders is about 0.0003% per year in the
The claim that they formed a human embryo from three parents is nothing out of the ordinary. Any human clone that is generated using an enucleated donor egg would contain DNA from three parents unless the donor egg, of course, was donated from the natural birth mother.
This type of research is not only controversial because it entails human cloning, but also because it destroys human embryos through experimentation. “In essence, I guess you could say that they are killing two birds with one stone: the first being the 2 parent-embryo that supposedly has a mitochondrial disorder and secondly, the 3 parent-embryo that was formed from the human cloning technique".
Key words: human cloning; gene therapy; mitochondrial disease; human rights; human experimentation; bioethics; destruction of human embryos for research purposes
THREE PARENT BABIES11:59:54 06/02/2008Gene therapy could cure hereditary diseasesScientists at Newcastle University have succeeded in creating human embryos with DNA from three different parents – two women and one man. The achievement, they say, could potentially prevent a whole host of hereditary diseases. The project has been aimed at preventing the transfer of defective mitochondrial DNA onto children, which comes exclusively from the mother. Mitochondria are the power-houses within a cell and faulty mitochondrial DNA can lead to around 50 known hereditary diseases, including epilepsy and diabetes.In their research, the scientists used normal embryos with the genetic material from one woman and one man that contained defective mitochondrial DNA from the mother. In the embryo, the mitochondrial DNA is the only genetic material not contained within the nucleus, meaning that the team could extract the nucleus from the fertilized embryo and deposit it into an emptied donor egg. The new embryo then develops with the genetic material from its original mother and father almost completely intact, but with the healthy mitochondrial DNA of a different woman. Experiments in mice have shown that the DNA that controls an individual’s appearance is not contained in the mitochondria, so the offspring would only inherit the characteristics of two people – the man and the woman who are the source of the nucleic DNA.The Newcastle team only had permission to carry out lab experiments and the embryos were destroyed after within six days. But it’s hoped a ‘mitochondria transplant’ could be offered as a genetic treatment sometime in the future.