Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dramatic Advance in Cloning Technology Holds Promise for Dramatic Advance for Medical Treatment

My latest post at The Objective Standard blog highlights a major breakthrough in cloning technology that will enable scientists to produce a virtually unlimited supply of stem cells derived from a patient's own DNA. This will enable personalized medical treatment in the form of replacement of diseased organs and cells without the threat of bodily rejection.

Read Scientists Advance Toward Genetically Perfect Replacements for Diseased Cells.

Cloning is controversial, however. Opposition to cloning comes mostly from religionists based on the mystic mythology that considers an embryo to be a person, in contravention to the obvious physical facts of reality. These opponents claim to be pro-life, even as they seek to subordinate the health of actual living human beings to a microscopic cluster of cells containing stem cells that haven't even begun differentiating into specialized human cells and organs, let alone become an actual human being.

Essentially, there are two types of cloning, reproductive and therapeutic. Most American scientists, reports Melissa Healy in the article I linked to, have (unfortunately) “squarely renounced” reproductive cloning, and 13 states have outlawed it, as have most industrialized countries (though not the U.S. federal government). But the work of the Oregon scientists falls under the category of “therapeutic cloning for research and medical treatment,” for which there is much less resistance among so-called “bioethicists.” Even President Bush’s 2002 The President’s Council on Bioethics, which urged a ban on reproductive cloning, refused to do the same regarding therapeutic cloning.

That doesn’t mean that therapeutic cloning is completely in the clear, however. Seven states ban it, and there are calls—such as from Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn—to enforce “consistent national limits” on the practice. And some states have placed legal limits on compensation for egg donors. This could restrict the supply of donor eggs, which are critical to this avenue of research and treatment. Anyone who values their own and their loved one’s health should fight such rights-violating restrictions.

Still, therapeutic cloning is legal in most states, and that’s great news. While speculating about the ultimate practical benefits of theoretical science is always uncertain, the work of the heroic OHSU scientists should cheer every life-loving human being, for the door to treatments for currently untreatable or incurable diseases has just been cracked open wider—perhaps much wider.

For more of my Objective Standard posts, click here.

Related Reading:

Heroes at Harvard by Craig Biddle

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