Scientist: Are you ready for human clones?

posted at 9:42 pm on April 21, 2009 by Allahpundit

What’s the problem? They’re no more genetically related than identical twins. In fact, they’re less related, since they’re being carried to term by a different mother, which means they have different mitochondrial DNA.

Panayiotis Zavos has broken the ultimate taboo of transferring cloned embryos into the human womb, a procedure that is a criminal offence in Britain and illegal in many other countries. He carried out the work at a secret lab-oratory, probably located in the Middle East where there is no cloning ban. Dr Zavos, a naturalised American, also has fertility clinics in Kentucky and Cyprus, where he was born. His patients – three married couples and a single woman – came from Britain, the United States and an unspecified country in the Middle East…

“There is absolutely no doubt about it, and I may not be the one that does it, but the cloned child is coming. There is absolutely no way that it will not happen,” Dr Zavos said in an interview yesterday with The Independent…

“In the future, when we get serious about executing things correctly, this thing will be very easy to do,” he said. “If we find out that this technique does not work, I don’t intend to step on dead bodies to achieve something because I don’t have that kind of ambition. My ambition is to help people.”

Dr Zavos also revealed that he has produced cloned embryos of three dead people, including a 10-year-old child called Cady, who died in a car crash. He did so after being asked by grieving relatives if he could create biological clones of their loved ones.

Seriously, what’s the objection here? If it’s a question of “ensoulment” of the cloned embryo, why doesn’t that objection also arise re: twins? If we can get Lincoln back to help address the financial crisis, shouldn’t we go for it?

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The bad mortality rate in cloned animals comes from (I read this in some science article a while back) when cells split to make new ones the cap on the dna strand is reduced by a percentage. It can only split so many times before it isn’t replaced again. This is programmed mortality. If you clone someone halfway through their life that means you’re getting a clone with an abbreviated life span depending on how many times that dna you seeded the egg with has reproduced.Spiritk9 on April 22, 2009 at 3:50 AM

Engineer longer telomeres.

daesleeper on April 22, 2009 at 10:31 AM

It’s not as easy as that. There are “immortal” cell lines, but they are more commonly known as “cancer.” Cell line mortality is a defense mechanism of multicelled animals against one particular cell running amok, replicating infinitely, and taking over the entire body.

bitsy on April 22, 2009 at 10:49 AM

TMK on April 22, 2009 at 3:37 AM

I remember that!

Wait, was it cancelled over the episode where clone-Gandhi was in love with an extremely violent furball of death with 6 inch long teeth that ran around decapitating everyone? I forget . . . LOL

Ryan Gandy on April 22, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Seriously, what’s the objection here? If it’s a question of “ensoulment” of the cloned embryo, why doesn’t that objection also arise re: twins?

I think one objection would be that human cloning is immoral for the same reasons that incest is immoral. An individual born of an incestuous union has a high likely hood of severe genetic abnormalities. An individual born of cloning experiments is even more at risk. No amount of improvemnt in our cloning technology will remove the risk barrier; just like no amount of improvement in pre-natal screening for genetic abnormalities will make incest a good idea. A diverse gene pool is a good thing. A restricted gene pool is no bueno.

bitsy on April 22, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Cloning your own organ would be a wonderful accomplishment I think.

hawkdriver on April 22, 2009 at 7:58 AM

That is so scary that someone could think that way… and you can eliminate the organ transfer vehicle when it has served its purpose.

I was born with a bad arm, and I don’t think I’m owed it by anyone (or by science)… and I’m thankful for the arm (and the days) God has given me.

dtestard on April 22, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Awesome, I will need something to harvest organs off of for transplants when I get old.

Hochmeister on April 22, 2009 at 12:20 PM

dtestard on April 22, 2009 at 11:35 AM

I admire your outlook on life. I really do.

That said though, the ability to clone my own organ would be great if/when I have a failure. Just in case I don’t happen to have any brothers or sisters to lend a kidney… or if I’ve already lent mine.

Oh wait…

Chaz706 on April 22, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Somewhere in Great Britain, there’s a man with a monocle sitting in a room full of trophies from past hunts. He is plotting to use clones to hunt earth’s most dangerous predator: man.

TheUnrepentantGeek on April 22, 2009 at 12:39 PM

The problem is that cloning doesn’t work all the time. Only a very small fraction (less that 0.1% IIRC from Dolly) will turn into a “normal” offspring. What’s happening with the 99.9% that have anywhere from very mild to severe genetic defects? Who’s taking care of them, seeing to their needs and education? Who’s paying for it? Or are we killing them at birth if they exhibit sever defects, like their sheep?

Actually, if I remember correctly, most didn’t make it to birth. Nonetheless, the “success” rate for cloning is abysmal.

taznar on April 22, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Seriously, what’s the objection here? If it’s a question of “ensoulment” of the cloned embryo, why doesn’t that objection also arise re: twins? If we can get Lincoln back to help address the financial crisis, shouldn’t we go for it?

Seriously? What’s the objection to playing God?

Even if you don’t believe there is a God, you can be sure that people do not have the wisdom and omniscience to be God. And you know that if clones are created by man, then their creators will treat them like property.

It’s not rocket science. Trying to create your own human beings through cloning is just a backhanded way to get your own human beings for whatever purposes you wish. How is that different from slavery?

I think people are often too critical of AP, but not this time. This suggestion is morally contemptible.

ThereGoesTheNeighborhood on April 23, 2009 at 12:02 AM

AP, maybe you should read to the end on this one:

Studies on animal cloning have shown time and time again that it is unsafe. The cloned animals suffer a higher-than-normal risk of severe developmental problems and the pregnancies often end in miscarriage. Mainstream scientists believe cloning is too dangerous to be used on humans.

Also from the article:

[S]cores of couples have now approached Dr Zavos hoping that he will help them to overcome their infertility by using the same cloning technique that was used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996.

From New Scientist Feb. 2003:

Dolly’s birth six-and-a-half years’ ago caused a sensation around the world. But as many sheep live to twice this age, her death will refuel the intense debate over the health and life expectancy of cloned animals.

The type of lung disease Dolly developed is most common in older sheep. And in January 2002, it was revealed that Dolly had developed arthritis prematurely. She was cloned using a cell taken from a healthy six-year-old sheep, and was born on 5 July 1996 at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland…
The only study of cloned mammals that have lived long enough to determine any effect on lifespan revealed that the mice involved died prematurely.

The problem: Intentionally creating people with greatly increased likelihood of disabilities and shortened life-spans is a monstrous thing to do.

John on April 23, 2009 at 4:12 PM