May 26, 2024

Harvard to clone embryos

 Scientists at Harvard University will probably become the first in the US to clone human embryos for research. Two separate teams at the newly-formed Harvard Stem Cell Institute are preparing applications for the university’s ethics committee. One team, under Professor Douglas Melton, is applying to clone embryos to study juvenile diabetes. The other, under Dr George Q. Daley, will study diseases of the blood.

Dr Daley recently was hauled over the coals at a committee hearing in the US Senate. He was repeatedly asked by Senator Sam Brownback, a fierce opponent of research cloning, exactly how old an embryo would have to be before he would decline to use it for medical research. But Daley was evasive. "I think there would be consensus among scientists that it would be impossible to define that time," he responded. "But I don’t think it’s at the age of the blastocyst." He summed up his philosophy in the words, "I can’t hug an embryo."