Advances in therapeutic cloning could mean the development of new treatment for degenerative diseases, but it is not without opposition.
On Wednesday, scientists announced that by altering the same technique that created the cloned sheep Dolly, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the Oregon National Primate Research Center were able to force a human egg to divide and reproduce without fertilization -- creating embryonic stem cells.
The scientists placed an adult skin cell into the egg -- whose genetic material had been removed -- and stem cells were created. The now-successful technique, called therapeutic cloning, means that potentially medical professionals could create stem cells suitable for curing a number of degenerative diseases including macular degeneration.
However, critics of the research say that this is simply one step closer to "producing a live born child," as commented by O. Carter Snead, professor of law at the Catholic University of Notre Dame. Although genetic material was removed and the egg was not fertilized, critics say that the technique could be used to clone humans. In addition, Snead believes that "the use and destruction of living human beings -- at any stage of biological development -- for scientific research is a terrible injustice."
In a statement, Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that human cloning for any purpose is against moral responsibilities, and "creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church's convictions on human life."
O'Malley also said that the technique is commercializing human life, whether produced to treat disease or not.
Reproductive cloning has been banned in roughly a dozen U.S. states, and therapeutic cloning has been banned in six states.
Read More: Reuters
Image credit: Saint Louis University Madrid Campus
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com