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Right to Recover ~ Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America presents scientific facts that challenge readers to think for themselves rather than accept political or religious views on stem cell research.

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RIGHT TO RECOVER is an Award-Winning Finalist in the Current Events: Political/Social of the National Best Books 2007 Awards. Amazon Best-selling book in biomedical category.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Types of Laboratory Cloning

Types of Laboratory Cloning (an excerpt from Right to Recover)

Cloning is a very useful tool in all types of research. Powerful new drugs, insulin, and useful bacteria are produced in the lab through cloning. Researchers are able to produce new plants and livestock and track the origins of biological weapons through the cloning process. Cloning is very important to research of stem cells. However, to be used for a specific individual, stem cells need to be modified to genetically match the patient’s DNA to avoid being rejected by the body’s immune system. This problem can be solved through cloning.

There are two ways to clone or create a cell: 1) Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) and Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), which are also known as therapeutic cloning; 2) Human reproductive cloning, which would utilize the same technique as that used to clone Dolly the sheep.

Both types of cloning start with two cells: one will be an unfertilized egg cell (ova) from which the woman’s DNA has been removed from the nucleus. These are called blank cells or empty eggs. The other cell is one that has no ability to reproduce itself such as a skin cell from an adult patient. The DNA from the skin cell is extracted and placed into the empty egg in a Petri dish. Electricity (not fertilization) is used to kick start the cell division process. SCNT and ANT involves no sperm, no implantation in the womb, no womb, and absolutely no embryo. ANT is a supposedly different version of SCNT, but it is still “nuclear transfer.” After the egg cell begins to divide, it forms a cluster of cells known as a blastocyst. Five to six days later, inner stem cells from this cluster are separated into individual cells and placed into a culture dish. Apart from one another these cells are unable to develop into an entire organism. Biologists then attempt to coax these separate undifferentiated cells to continue to divide into more undifferentiated, pluripotent cells. As a result, a new stem cell line is created. This process is called therapeutic cloning.

Human reproductive cloning differs from therapeutic cloning. With reproductive cloning the blastocyst is kept intact and may be implanted in a uterus of an animal and brought to term.
The term Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) was proposed by Bush Bioethics Council member and Stanford professor William Hurlbut. Essentially, Hurlbut proposes that scientists first inactivate a gene required for development beyond blastocyst stage. If the correct gene is picked, then it would be possible to generate an altered, cloned blastocyst that has pluripotent stem cells in it. But, because the critical gene is inactive, the blastocyst cannot grow to become an embryo, and thus could not become human. Hurlbut proposed this as an “ethical” way to advance SCNT research.

Don Reed, Chair, Californians for Cures and board officer of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, gives a description of nuclear transfer that makes it sound like a pretty simple procedure:

What is nuclear transfer? Take a Q-tip®, swab out the inside of the patient’s cheek. That gives you a microscopic skin cell. Now add that to an egg like a woman loses every month. Put it in a dish of salt water. Shock it with electricity. Wait 5-7 days, and take it apart. There are your stem cells. No sperm, no implantation in the womb, no womb, and absolutely no child—except maybe the patient being healed. The advantages of having cells to heal—that would not be rejected by the body? Enormous.

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