Yesterday, the chief executive at biotech company Stemagen became the first adult human to see his clone mature into a viable embryo. No, Samuel Wood isn't planning to raise his own baby clone — he's just doing research into a new way of creating stem cells from adult DNA. But scientists pointed out that the embryo he created was viable enough to be implanted in a woman's uterus, IVF-style. There's no reason to believe it wouldn't mature into a human baby.
Researchers took DNA from one of Wood's skin cells, injected it into a human egg cell from the fertility clinic next door to Stemagen, and created a multi-celled embryo — essentially the same size embryo that a fertility clinic would implant into a woman undergoing IVF treatments. Wood, however, emphasizes that he's horrified by the idea of human cloning and wants only to use this new technique to make stem cells for therapeutic purposes.
I say, bring on the human clones. Kerry Macintosh, a law professor, has recently written a fascinating book, Illegal Beings, about how the biggest problem with human clones is their legal status. She argues that when a human clone is born its identity will have to be kept secret — under current law, the clone's existence is illegal and therefore it would have no human rights and would have to be confiscated by the government if found out. So there might be human clones out there right now, but the frightened parents would never reveal it for fear of losing their child.
Mature Human Embryos Created from Adult Skin Cells [Washington Post]