High School Biology: Biology: Cloning
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CHICAGO (CNN) -- A scientist who plans to
clone babies for infertile couples believes any
opposition to his work will be short-lived. "I think
it will blow over," Richard G. Seed told CNN on
"There were an awful lot of people against the
automobile, too," he said in a live interview by
telephone from Chicago. "Any new technology ...
creates fear and horror." But as time passes,
human cloning will receive "enthusiastic
endorsement," he said.
Seed, who has a
in physics and has
research in the past,
plans to begin his
work on a human
clone within three
months . "My target
is to produce a
female (within the
next 18 months)," he
If he is barred from pursuing his work in the
United States, Seed said he plans to go to another
country. He said he has talked with officials in
Tijuana, Mexico, and also was considering the
Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.
In a separate interview with National Public
Radio (NPR) correspondent Joe Palca, , Seed said
it was his objective to set up profitable human
clone clinics, first in the Chicago area and then at
"10 or 20 other locations" in the U.S. and "maybe
five or six" internationally.
Seed, who is not a
medical doctor, says he
has already assembled a
group of doctors willing
to work with him and has
four couples who have
volunteered to be cloned.
The goal for each of them
is to achieve a pregnancy
within a year and a half.
The researchers will use a donor cell from either
the mother or father and test it for genetic
abberations, he said.
He declined to name any of the couples and it was
not immediately clear where in the Chicago area
Seed planned to open his proposed clinic. He told
USA Today he needs $2 million to begin his
privately funded project but has only raised "a few
hundred thousand" dollars.
Same technique used in sheep cloning
Seed plans to use the same
technique utilized by
Scottish scientists in 1996 to
clone the adult sheep Dolly,
the first mammal cloned
from adult tissue.
The human cloning
procedure involves taking an
unfertilized egg from a female, removing the
nucleus, which contains most of the genetic
information, and replacing it with the nucleus of a
cell from the person to be cloned.
The hard part is tricking this egg into acting as if it
has been fertilized by a sperm, thus starting it
dividing as if it were a new baby, instead of just
creating more skin cells or liver cells or cells of
whatever organ the nucleus was taken from.
If the technique is successful, the fertilized egg
would grow to 50 to 100 cells and the embryo
would then be transferred to a woman. A baby
clone would be born nine months later.
Seed says the cloned babies he and his colleagues
would create would have no chromosomal damage
and a normal life span.
He first talked about his plans December 5 at a
little-noticed Chicago symposium on reproductive
technologies sponsored by the Illinois Institute of
Technology, Palca told CNN. (242K/22 sec.
AIFF or WAV sound)
Ethical, legal dilemma
After Dolly was cloned,
President Clinton set up an
advisory group which
recommended last year that
Congress pass a law making
human cloning illegal.
Harold Shapiro, who headed
the panel -- the National
Committee -- believes Seed's project is
"scientifically and clinically premature," with
many legal and ethical issues yet to be resolved.
In the future, however, Shapiro acknowledged
there might be cases where human cloning could
benefit infertile couples. (233K/22 sec. AIFF
or WAV sound)
Clinton issued an executive order blocking the use
of federal funds on human cloning research and
proposed a law banning such research for five
years, actions Seed disagrees with. "I am an
independent thinker," he told NPR.
Several measures to ban cloning are awaiting
action in Congress. In the meantime, the Food and
Drug Administration says it has the authority to
regulate human cloning research.
The American Medical Association said
Wednesday it does not have an official policy on
the subject but expects members to discuss the
issue at a meeting in June. --- CNN