Friday, December 12, 2008

Newspaper Article

Cloning Advances go Unnoticed by Public

Indiana, PA – The news in January that 5 human embryos had been cloned went unnoticed by much of the public. Scientists at Stemagen laboratories in California produced living human blastocyst embryos. Brittany Lyn Papalia, an IUP sophomore and Biology minor, said that she knew “a tiny, tiny bit” about cloning, but could not describe the methods. Papalia, along with other IUP students, were completely unaware of the developments at Stemagen.

The scientists at Stemagen used the method known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, or SCNT. At its root, SCNT involves removing the nucleus from the donor egg, isolating a nucleus from an adult (somatic) cell, and inserting the adult nucleus into the de-nucleated egg.

According to Stemagen’s website, their cloning achievement was “a critical milestone in the development of patient-specific embryonic stem cells for human therapeutic use, potentially including developing treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.” Though no actual stem cells were produced, the growth of embryos is one step along that path.

Comments specifically on Stemagen’s achievement have been scarce. The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family specifically condemns SCNT. Pope Benedict XVI said in a January 31, 2008 address that “The barrier that served to protect human dignity has been violated,” and that embryos “Are no longer being treated as ‘someone’ but rather as ‘something’.”On the other hand, some bioethicists think that cloned human embryos are different from normal humans in that they have less potential to grow into normal adults.

Either way, however you feel, perhaps the next advance in human cloning will be bigger news.

Notes Page:

The statement that begins “Scientists at Stemagen Laboratories” is paraphrased from French, et al
The quote “a tiny, tiny bit” is quoted from my interview with Brittany Lyn Papalia
The paragraph about Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer is paraphrased from Jaenisch.
The quote beginning with “a critical milestone” is quoted form Stemagen’s website
The statement that begins “The conservative Christian group” is paraphrased from “Positiion Statement on Human Cloning”
The two quotes in the sentence beginning with “Pope Benedict XVI” are quoted from Pope Benedict XVI
The sentence beginning with “On the Other Hand,” is paraphrased from Devolder

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