heimer’s disease patient acted while differentiating into brain cells, compared with those derived from a normal patient, might yield new clues about Alzheimer’s disease. Such cell lines could also be used to ensure that research covers a more genetically diverse human population than that represented in the blastocysts stored in IVF clinics, promoting studies of the causes and consequences of genetic diseases by allowing researchers to study how embryonic stem cells with different genetic endowments differ in the way that they form cell types and tissues. Finally, studies of genetic reprogramming and genetic imprinting will be substantially enhanced through the use of stem cells derived by nuclear transplantation, compared with studies with stem cells derived from other sources.

SUMMARY

This panel was charged with assessing the scientific and medical issues surrounding human reproductive cloning. Most of the relevant data on reproductive cloning are derived from animal studies. The data reveal high rates of abnormalities in the cloned animals of multiple mammalian species and lead the panel to conclude that reproductive cloning of humans is not now safe. Our present opposition to human reproductive cloning is based on science and medicine, irrespective of broader considerations. The panel stresses, however, that a broad ethical debate must be encouraged, so that the public can be prepared to make decisions if human reproductive cloning is some day considered medically safe for mothers and offspring.

The panel’s discussion inevitably included a comparison of the methods used for reproductive cloning and for nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells. The panel is in agreement with the recent report from the National Academies entitled Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine [2] in affirming the potential of studies on stem cells isolated through nuclear transplantation. The probable benefits include advances in fundamental biomedical knowledge, as well as the understanding and treatment of various diseases and debilitating disorders.

REFERENCES

1. NATIONAL BIOETHICS ADVISORY COMMISSION. Cloning Human Beings, Volume I: Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Rockville, MD. 1997 Jun. Online at: http://bioethics.gov/pubs/cloning1/cloning.pdf.



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