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Superhumans Possible Via Designer Cloning
User ID: 328162
04/16/2008 12:40 PM
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A recently developed technique that might eventually produce facsimiles of human embryonic stem cells from skin cells was lauded by President Bush and the Catholic Church as an ethical alternative to using human embryos for research. But it “opens a whole new can of worms” — the possibility of creating chimera humans — one researcher says.
The idea is that you could borrow skin cells from a living or dead person (Albert Einstein jumped to the mind of the concerned scientist) to give your child a genetic leg up.
Scientists used the technique to create baby mice from the skin cells of adult animals. The approach, which reprograms skin cells and inserts them into an embryo, also was employed to revert human skin cells to a quasi-embryonic state. Presumably these virtual stem cells could be used for the same sorts of disease-curing research that embryos are used for.
Overlooked, according to Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology in this article in the Independent, is the potential for making baby Einsteins.
“If we had a few skin cells from Albert Einstein, or anyone else in the world, you could have a child that is say 10 per cent or 70 per cent Albert Einstein by just injecting a few of their cells into an embryo,” Lanza said. “It’s unethical and unsafe, but someone may be doing it today.”
The genetic makeup of such a child would be a mix of mother, father and Albert (or Uncle Al or any other skin cell donor).
Clearly such chimera children wouldn’t go over well with most ethicists. People are already squeamish over British attempts to make cybrid embryos for research by putting human DNA into cow eggs. And the new technique, considered safer than the cloning method used on Dolly, raises the interesting (frightening?) prospect of quite easily nudging our genetics toward a race of superhumans.
[link to www.livescience.com]