Oregon Health & Science University's patent on a procedure to clone stem cells caps off a decade of work for Shoukhrat Mitalipov and his research team at OHSU's primate center.
The 2007 discovery, ranked by TIME Magazine one of the top two research advances of the year, now can be commercialized. Over the long-term, observers say, it could lead to the genetic engineering of human beings. But OHSU's announcement yesterday focused on short-term health gains.
“We believe our procedure has several advantages over other methods in developing new treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cardiac disease and spinal cord injuries,” said Mitalipov, an associate scientist in the Division of Reproductive Sciences. “For instance, because we transform a person’s own cells, there are no issues of rejection when the stem cells are transplanted back into a patient.”
What follows are links tracking the patent announcement, the earlier news and the resulting ethical debate over human cloning.
OHSU's Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., discusses newly developed gene therapy method (OHSU via Youtube.com)
Scientists use monkey clones to extract stem cells (New York Times)
Groups opposing human cloning and the destruction of human embryos to extract stem cells say the report makes it more urgent than ever to draw a moral line.
“I certainly think that this represents a new threshold in the entire discussion,” said the Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
OHSU says gene swap holds promise for preventing inherited diseases (The Oregonian)
Oregon researchers have demonstrated a potential way to prevent many inherited diseases in unborn children by manipulating the genes of a mother's egg cells before they are fertilized and implanted in her womb...While promising, the potential treatment raises challenging safety and ethical questions because it would permanently alter the genetic makeup of future generations of humans.
Stem Cells and Cloning (George Mason University ethics panel via Youtube)
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