November, 2008

The Big Chill:  Cloning the Dead?

Now that scientists have learned to use cloning technology to produce living baby mice from dead frozen mice, could such research be attempted on humans one day? Only half joking, University of Pennsylvania scientist John Gearhart said that it might be possible to bring back Boston Red Sox hitter Ted Williams whose body was frozen after dying in 2002.  The mouse study might “now stimulate the small industry of freezing parts of us before we die…,” he added.

The fact is that ever since the successful cloning of a mammal in 1997 (the sheep, Dolly) efforts to apply cloning technologies to humans have been accelerating.  In January 2008 science-entrepreneurs in La Jolla, California created five human clonal embryos.  In April 2008, chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology, Robert Lanza, explained that, “we have the technology that can actually produce a child.”   

Science-entrepreneurs in many parts of the world are attempting to produce human clonal embryos.  California, in particular, has been lavishly funded to proceed ever since 2004, when the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative passed, granting $3 billion which can be used, in part, to help move cloning technology along.

One thing’s clear, whether or not science-entrepreneurs decide to produce human embryos from dead frozen tissue, they will find no legal barrier from doing so in many states. While state law in California prohibits the implantation of the clonal embryos produced for research, there is no federal law banning it in other states.