“Therapeutic” Cloning


Position Paper


Since “therapeutic” cloning is not therapeutic in any sense of the word: it involves the production of a human embryonic clone and then the destruction of the embryonic clone so that its progenitor—another human being struggling with ill health—could be cured of a disease or injury, the entire process fails to respect the inviolable life and dignity of everyone involved: the patient, the patient’s embryonic clone, and the researchers. NCER, therefore, cannot support this approach to therapy for persons struggling with degenerative diseases and serious injury.

One of the sources for ESC transplants to treat patients suffering from degenerative diseases or serious injury is “fresh” embryos: human embryos who are clones of the patient/transplant-recipient. The patient donates a somatic (body) cell which is then subject to a cloning technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT): (1) the nucleus of the patient’s body cell is transferred to the cytoplasm of a donated enucleated egg cell (an egg cell from which its nucleus is removed); (2) once inside the egg, the somatic nucleus is reprogrammed by the egg’s cytoplasmic factors to become a human zygote nucleus; (3) the single cell (zygotic) cloned embryo is allowed to develop to the blastocyst (5-7 day-old) stage, at which point (4) the embryonic clone (of the patient) is destroyed, or literally dismantled, as its outer trophoblast tissue is siphoned off from its inner cell mass cells (the body of the embryo consisting of approximately 30 pluripotent stem cells); (5) the pluripotent stem cells are separated, plated, reproduced into numbers large enough to form pluripotent stem cells lines, sold to researchers who reprogram the PSC lines into the specialty cells that are needed for transplant therapy for the original somatic cell donor-patient in hopes of regenerating his/her dying or dead cells.

Since the transplant-recipient is the one who initially donates his body cell for the production of his embryonic clone, it is less likely that the transplant will be rejected, as the nuclear DNA of the transplanted cells matches that of the donor-patient, transplant-recipient.

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