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The Drudge Report has become America’s Front Page, to the point that even the New York Times and other newspapers try to get publicity for their stories by leaking them ahead of time to Drudge, a man the MSM once despised. Thus, when Drudge thinks a story is important, it comes to the attention of tens of millions of people .

But Drudge has a tendency to, shall we say, sensationalize. That’s why when he claimed in red font that a new cloning technology has been developed that could lead to the birth of born cloned human babies, I felt the need to check it out. After reading the story, my impression is, in a phrase, “not so fast.”

The story is about a new form of mouse cloning that is supposedly more efficient and productive than SCNT for reproductive purposes. From the story:

A new form of cloning has been developed that is easier to carry out than the technique used to create Dolly the sheep, raising fears that it may one day be used on human embryos to produce “designer” babies.

Scientists who used the procedure to create baby mice from the skin cells of adult animals have found it to be far more efficient than the Dolly technique, with fewer side effects, which makes it more acceptable for human use.

The mice were made by inserting skin cells of an adult animal into early embryos produced by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). Some of the resulting offspring were partial clones but some were full clones—just like Dolly. Unlike the Dolly technique, however, the procedure is so simple and efficient that it has raised fears that it will be seized on by IVF doctors to help infertile couples who are eager to have their own biological children

Sounds alarming. But then we read further and it turns out the story is being driven by our old pal Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology—which means there is a political or fund raising purpose here. And indeed: Lanza claims that IPSCs were used in this technique (of course, with Lanza, we can never be sure of his veracity). And it turns out this is an attempt to undermine support for IPSCs—perhaps because ACT has a big stake in cloning and ESCR—by planting seeds of fear that they will lead to easier reproductive cloning than SCNT. Lanza shows his hand when he tells the Independent:”
At this point there are no laws or regulations for this kind of thing and the bizarre thing is that the Catholic Church and other traditional stem-cell opponents think this technology is great when in reality it could in the end become one of their biggest nightmares,” he said. “It is quite possible that the real legacy of this whole new programming technology is that it will be introducing the era of designer babies. “So for instance if we had a few skin cells from Albert Einstein, or anyone else in the world, you could have a child that is say 10 per cent or 70 per cent Albert Einstein by just injecting a few of their cells into an embryo,” he said.
I have heard of this theoretical possibility before. But remember: What can be done in a mouse may be far more difficult to do in a human—as we have seen with SCNT. Moreover, there is a legislative cure, but Lanza would oppose it. Outlaw all human SCNT. Or, outlaw implanting any embryo into a womb or its functional equivalent unless created via fertilization.

So, let’s not fall for his scheme. IPSC research needs to proceed with our full support. This story is merely yet another example of the press letting Lanza and ACT promote their own PR agendas for their own purposes—which in this case appear to be to undermine support for IPSC research among the anti-cloning and anti-ESCR communities.

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