Media Release: Sunday, 8th June, 2008
An article from the Australian Christian Lobby Website
Issuer: Dr David van Gend, National Director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research
News that Sydney IVF and Monash Stem Cell Laboratories have applied to perform cloning of human embryos has been described as the “last wish of a dying science”.
News that Sydney IVF and Monash Stem Cell Laboratories have applied to perform cloning of human embryos has been described as the “last wish of a dying science” by Dr David van Gend, National Director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research.
“Cloning, as a serious science, died in November 2007, and any compelling reason to clone human embryos died with it. This application is as redundant as the science of cloning itself.
“The national licensing committee is bound by legislation to permit contentious experiments only where the research goals ‘could not reasonably be achieved by other means’. The research goal of SCNT-cloning is to obtain ‘patient-matched’ stem cells for researching a patient’s disease. Both the committee and the scientists know there is now a superior, entirely ethical alternative to reach the same research goal.
"This alternative of ‘direct reprogramming’ of adult cells, published in November by Shimya Yamanaka in Japan and James Thomson in the US, achieves the same research goal as SCNT cloning by transforming a patient’s own skin cells into the exact equivalent of stem cells from a cloned embryo – but without ever using a woman’s egg or creating and destroying a living human embryo.
“Significantly, when this breakthrough was published in November 2007, The Age reported that “the find signals a shift by the scientific community away from therapeutic cloning” and interviewed Professor Richard Boyd of Monash Stem Cell Labs – who is now heading the application to clone embryos. Boyd said: "There is a definite move now towards this new area which is potentially so much easier and free of the ethical stresses that surround classical embryonic stem cell research.”
“Why then is Prof Boyd now applying to clone embryos – when he has acknowledged, along with many leading scientists, that the alternative is ‘so much easier and free of ethical stresses’? Is it that so much energy and political effort has gone into getting cloning laws passed that scientists now need to go through the motions of a cloning application just to save face?
“This ‘dying wish’ of the cloning lobby is surely not going to be granted. Science itself has left cloning redundant, and no licenses to clone can be justified even on scientific grounds in the new era of ‘direct reprogramming’ of adult cells”, Dr van Gend concluded.