Scientists in Oregon announced yesterday that they have successfully cloned human cells. And, then, in order to use them to extract embryonic stem cells, that newly created tissue was destroyed. Those stem cells will theoretically be used by the donor of the DNA used to replicate their organs and treat their diseases, should the need arise.
In simplistic terms, what occurs is that eggs are received from a donor and the genetic content from the woman is removed. It is replaced with DNA from the skin cells of another donor, male or female. Then, through means of a chemical reaction, the cells begin “to fuse and begin development.”
This is the part that I find quite intriguing. Scientists have been able to form a blastocyst, which is a hollow ball of 50 to 100 cells. At this point, the blastocyst has to be implanted in a human womb where it develops into an embryo. So far, with primates (they have only tested monkeys so far, no humans) the implantation has not been successful, whereas they have been able to clone rabbits, sheep, goats, cats and cows. Some feel that cloning monkeys, as well as humans, is only a matter of time: that is, if we, as a society allow it. One question that came to my mind was: would God allow it to occur? Is there something divine in the creation of human life that cannot be replicated in a laboratory? I wonder.
With these stem cells, however, they have been able to add chemicals which transformed them into different human tissues, including beating human heart cells, reported Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a development biologist at Oregon Health and Science University, who was a lead author of this most recent study. He and his team have attempted to transplant blastocysts into the womb of many monkeys, but have had no success at achieving pregnancy. “We don’t know why this is,” said Dr. Mitalipov. “You can make embryonic stem cells, but it doesn’t mean that the embryo will implant.”
Their main goal with this latest experiment is to create tissue which can be used in the genetic donor to replace an organ if it gets damaged, or to treat things like Parkinson’s Disease. However, this is already being accomplished through use of the adult skin cells without implantation into an egg. Scientists have been extremely successful in transforming skin and other cells into what are called “pluripotent cells” which can be used in the same way as embryonic cells but without the destruction of life. Which leaves me asking: why do scientists feel they need to keep tampering with newly formed life when the same things can be done with adult cells?
It doesn’t really make sense to believe that life begins at any other point that when egg and sperm meet and the newly formed cells, with a unique set of DNA, begin to multiply. So, what is created when scientists take an egg, empty it out, and replace it with the DNA of only one person? Those cells begin to divide and multiply, just as newly formed life does. In sheep and cows, it has been implanted to create an identical animal to the donor. If that human cluster of cells is destroyed, has a human life been destroyed?
Scripture tells us that God knew us when we were being formed in our mother’s womb. What sets us apart from animals is that we are imparted with an eternal soul, which will never die. At what point does the soul enter in? I believe it is at the moment of conception. However, can this happen in cloning? Are those blastocysts really human life? Should we be concerned?
Another aspect which needs to be considered in all this is the process that takes place to collect the human eggs which are necessary for testing to occur. The harvesting of eggs has become a very controversial subject. In most cases, women sell their eggs to meet the growing demand. However, the process that they have to undergo has proven quite costly for many.
Since women usually only release one egg a month, a series of hormone injections are given to egg donors to increase their production. Then they have to undergo a painful procedure to remove their eggs. the process, called ovarian hyperstimulation (OHS) has proved very dangerous and even deadly. Egg harvesting tends to target the poor and minorities, who desperately need the money it provides.
I admit to not having a scientific mind. Much of this is far beyond my understanding. However, as I have stated often, I do not understand why we continue to pour millions of dollars into embryonic stem cell research when adult stem cells are already successful in treating so many things. As far as I can see, adult cells can be used in every way that they desire embryonic cells to be used, but without any loss of life. Also gone are the Frankensteinian overtones.
We have lost enough respect for human life after 40 years of abortion on demand. Human cloning will only denigrate the sacredness of life even further. Life is too precious to be used in experimentation and to advance the human ego. It is time for us to rise up and say: “No more!”
Keeping it true! Barb