Scientists have used cloning technology to transform human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, an experiment that may revive the controversy over human cloning. The researchers stopped well short of creating a human clone. But they showed, for the first time, that it is possible to create cloned embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the person from whom they are derived.
- First, take a skin or other cell (Dolly came from a mammary gland cell, hence her naming as something of a joke after Dolly Parton);
- Remove the cell’s nucleus;
- Next take an egg and remove its nucleus;
- Place the skin cell nucleus where the egg nucleus used to be;
- Stimulate with an electric current or other means;
- If the cloning works, the properties of the egg transform into a one-celled embryo just as occurs after fertilization.
Activation of embryonic genes and transcription from the transplanted somatic cell nucleus are required for development of SCNT embryos beyond the eight-cell stage. Therefore, these results are consistent with the premise that our modified SCNT protocol supports reprogramming of human somatic cells to the embryonic state.
Wesley J. Smith is a special consultant to the CBC. He is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.