Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Failure of Human Animal Hybrid Cloning Could Spark Human Egg Market

A few weeks ago, I posted about bitter complaints being made by scientists in Brave New Britain that the government had not yet funded the creation of human/animal hybrid cloned embryos. The scientists charged that morality might have played a part in the non funding--a terrible thought that was later laid to rest by the assurance that morality has nothing to do with science funding in the UK.

But now, the scientists at Advanced Cell Technology are claiming that using animal eggs to make human cloned embryos doesn't work. From the story:

Researchers who tried to use mouse, cow and rabbit eggs to make human clones said on Monday the effort failed to produce workable embryos but added that they showed human cloning should work in principle. Mixing human and animal cells does not appear to program the egg properly, said Dr. Robert Lanza of Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology.

But using human cells did reprogram the egg cell or oocyte and activate the genes needed to make a viable embryo, Lanza and colleagues reported in the journal Cloning and Stem Cells.
It isn't surprising that animal eggs don't work, since even ennucleated eggs (those that have had their nucleus removed) are more than mere empty shells. And it remains to be seen whether the intricacies of cloning will ever work reliably in humans.

What this does seem to mean, however, is that there is no immediate way around the egg dearth that is materially impeding the development of human cloning technology. With each cloning attempt requiring one human egg, tens of thousands of eggs will likely be needed just to perfect the technique--assuming it can be perfected. To ever use cloning as a treatment modality could take many times more. Thus, look for pressure to increase from "the scientists" for the creation of an egg market in which women would be paid to produce eggs for science--with potential devastating health consequences to the sellers.



At February 03, 2009 , Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I have the satisfaction of having predicted this result. And it's a relief to be right on this one, too.

Didn't Richard Dawkins say that it _follows_ from Darwinism that human-animal hybrids are possible? I'm waiting for it to be all over the news that Dawkins has renounced Darwinism because of this falsifying experiment. :-)

At February 03, 2009 , Blogger Bobby Bambino said...

Don't hold your breath, Lydia :)

At February 03, 2009 , Blogger T E Fine said...

So first you're going to have women forced to give up eggs. Screw paying them - in our not-so-brave-new-world, you know that the Immortalists (or those whom Wesley calls "the scientists," quotes included) are going to push like crazy so they can get their eggs to build their spare parts. That means a segment of the female population will likely be bred specifically for their eggs.

Then you have the babies themselves, being cloned by the Immortalists. Embryos will be cut up for their stem cells, true, but at some point we're going to see people cutting babies out when they're nearing term, so that various body parts can be removed from them and grown on animals until they reach the proper size.

Don't believe me? There's a story about a boy who lost his ear. A new ear was fashioned for him and while it was being grown, it was grafted to the back of a rat. I kid you not. I'm dead serious. Eventually the ear was complete, the boy got it grafted to him, and the rat survived the surgery to remove the grafted ear. It lived to a ripe old age and died of natural causes.

Which is where I start agreeing with Ianthe about animal experimentation, but anyway, the Immortalists will be able to attach, say, livers or kidneys or arms or whatever the baby was cloned for, to some kind of animal, most likely a cow. Cows are big enough, and from what I understand they share some kind of common element with humans that make it possible for us to use their blood, though I'm not going to say this 100%. But anyway, a baby will be delivered near term and dismembered, with the needed bits grown to full size inside a cow. Then the person with the failing kidneys or liver or who lost an arm will have the organs transplanted in or else the limb attached, and will continue to have clones made, the embryos frozen, so that he can have his parts replaced periodically as he gets older and they start wearing out. Unfortunately for them, the brain eventually does start to fail, meaning that unless there's a proven way of, say, injecting an embryo's cells into the brain and having dementia cleared up that way, the Immortalist is probably either going to die or is going to be living in a body that his brain will no longer be able to maintain. And when the brain gets too degernerate, the body will cease to function anyway, but hey, as long as we have our clones, we're going to keep on working to find a way to beat death!

I'm just kicking back and waiting for the first human head transplant. I told you about (and linked you to) an article where a scientist actually did monkey head transplants. Again, I agree with Ianthe here when it comes to animal experimentation. Falls beyond what I think is good stewardship, but what do I know?

Anyway, Dawkins won't reject Darwinism because 1) if there's no neo-Darwinism, then that means there's a chance there's a God and 2) if there's a God, that means that there's a chance of judgment after death.

Besides, I'm not convinced he's not afraid of death and looking for a way to immortality, too.

At February 04, 2009 , Blogger Ianthe said...

Of course eggs don't work, of any animal. They have their own purpose and are not supposed to be messed with. At least not if one cares about life.

T.E. Imagine being immortal as a half-non-human. That was one damned generous rat, who didn't deserve to have to endure such grotesquity. I agree that all sorts of other grotesquity such as you described is coming down the pike at us. Disrespect for life and for the integrity and right to be as it was created of a being, whether the being is non-human or animal, is disrespect for life and for the integrity and right to be as it was created of a being, whether the being is non-human or animal. They can say they are doing these things "to benefit humans" until the cows come home, but the proof is in the pudding, and the direciton in which the pudding is going isn't looking good.

At February 04, 2009 , Blogger John Howard said...

Well, they've already made eggs from stem cells, so maybe they can make lots of eggs from stem cells.

It was a good argument for a while, but if people wind up thinking that's the only issue, then it'll be harder to explain that it wasn't just about the dangers of getting eggs.

At February 04, 2009 , Blogger T E Fine said...


That rat might have lived a healthy life because it was used to transport that boy's ear, but by God, it isn't *right* to do things like that! I'm not saying that things shouldn't be done to help the child, but that's going too far! Ugh.

So, I can't imagine anyone, anything, being forced to endure hybridizaton, save only cars. Those are the only things I think can survive being a hybred. I think it's immoral and cruel to create lygers and tigons (half lion, half tiger, the father gives it the first part of the name and the mother the second part), or to create half-wolf breeds of dogs, and I *still* am not insane with joy over mules. If an animal gets loose and mates with another animal and they produce a baby, okay. It happens. A male zebra at this privately owned preservation society got loose and now they have a bunch of zorses, a pair of zonkies, and four zonies (zebra horse/donkey/pony mixes, respectively). It happens. But man doesn't have any call in force breeding animals to begin with (remember Vick and his bull dogs? Rape stand, anyone?).

If it's bad enough to see animals that are half-breeds, for the sake of humans enjoying the weridness of them, then why on earth would anyone want to create a half human, half animal baby? Ugh.

At February 06, 2009 , Blogger Ianthe said...

T.E.: I'm with you on all of that. I just went off on it in the most recent blog section about the human genetic material being put into goats "for our sake." I can't stand forced, mechanized, and artificial, breeding of animals, either. Nature knows how things are supposed to be. Humans don't, obviously, and, even worse, don't care.


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