One Step Closer to Human Clones

Scientists from the Oregon Health and Science University have succeeded in creating embryonic stem cells from a cloned human embryo. This potentially brings us one step closer to cloning a human being. Since Dolly, the cloned sheep in 1996, scientists have cloned upwards of 20 species. However, they have stopped short of cloning monkeys or primates. Apparently, the primate physiology makes it a much more difficult.  However, recent improvements to the process suggest that we are one step closer to monkeys and therefore, a step closer to humans. From the Wall Street Journal:

The researchers weren’t simply trying to reach a cloning milestone. Instead, they were looking for a better way to make fresh human tissue for the treatment of severe injuries or disease. Lab-grown tissue has the potential to transform medicine, though it is still a long way from routine clinical use/ For example, fresh nerve cells could alleviate spinal-cord injuries, or newly made heart cells could repair a site scarred by a heart attack.

However, some scientists including Rudolf Jaenisch, a biologist at MIT’s Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. do not believe creating stem cells is medically useful.  At least not yet.  “An outstanding issue of whether it would work in humans has been resolved,” said Jaenisch per the Washington Post but added that the feat “has no clinical relevance.” Clinical relevance or not, we may soon be able to create a half-sheep-half-man. And that should excite anyone.

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