Dec. 21, 2012
Nobel Laureate John Gurdon of the U.K. has come out in support of human cloning. Gurdon was one of this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with Shinya Yamanaka of Japan. Yamanaka showed that normal adult cells could be reprogrammed back to an early stem cell state, which he termed “induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells”. Gurdon’s work involved reprogramming by creating a new, cloned embryo. Gurdon was the first to show that cloning of vertebrates was possible, publishing his initial paper on the cloning of frogs in 1962.
In giving his support for human cloning, Gurdon did admit that there were still some problems with the cloning technique:
“Major improvements in cloning methods would have to be made before they could be applied to humans because the vast majority of cloned animal embryos today are deformed.”
Indeed. In fact, there would need to be many thousands of human cloned embryos created and destroyed for such improvements, using the cloned humans for experiments. Gurdon sees the replacement of a deceased human child as one application of human cloning, essentially viewing children as mere commodities. While he does admit there would be a host of ethical problems, Gurdon thinks “people would soon overcome their concerns if the technique became medically useful.”
Wesley Smith has some additional thoughts on his blog worth reading, regarding Gurdon’s proposal.