Indiana Daily Student

Parliament to decide on human cloning legislation

Law would legalize growth of embryos for stem cell research

Britain could be the first country to authorize human cloning if legislation passes in Parliament to amend the current ban. \nDespite the current move, not everyone in the biology field agrees.\nAs it stands, the amendment would allow embryos to be cloned and used for scientific research of up to fourteen days. The law would not endorse the creation of cloned babies, but rather the growth of a cloned embryo for research of stem cells. Two IU professors said the step could be premature. \nThe amendment would allow the growth of the embryo to grow to about 20 stem cells. Stem cells are human cells, which do not exhibit properties of any particular tissue. As they mature, they take on specific roles such as organs. Medical advancements would come when cloned stem cells are used to create tissue.\nScientists say they would create a clone of a sick patient by removing the nucleus of a donor egg and replacing it with the cell from the patient. The egg would be allowed to divide and start growing into an embryo. The cloned cells would be genetically identical to the patient's. \nScientists believe patients with the tissue could overcome problems of transplant rejection and bypass the immune system's rejection of foreign cells. If realized, it would be possible to grow nerve cells for spinal repair, pancreatic cells for insulin production or skin cells for burn victims. \nBritain allows human embryos up to 14 days old to be studied for fertility treatments and inherited disease prevention. In the United States, President Clinton banned the use of public funds to clone humans and asked the private sector to adhere to the same policy. Rhode Island, Michigan and California have banned human cloning completely.\nAssociate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology Anton W. Neff said stem cell research has potential to advance medicine. The research in the area of stem cells is currently very active with entire scientific conferences dedicated to its development, Neff said. \n"The potential payback would be enormous…the pockets of industry are very deep" Neff said, referring to Clinton's request to private sector research. "It is probable research in this direction is already being pursued."\nProfessor of Anatomy Anthony Mescher said more preliminary research should be done before the use of human embryos stem cell research. "We have good models of human diseases which can be investigated through mice," Mescher said. \nHe said the use of using cloned human embryos should be postponed until after the possible benefits and implications are more accurately known in other animal systems. \nMescher said stem cell research could have a huge impact on medical organ repair, but that it doesn't necessitate human cloning at this time. \nThe Associated Press contributed to this story.

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 Indiana Daily Student