Experts warned that a new technique allowing stem cells to be grown from the DNA of human adult males could lead to human cloning.
According to the journal Cell Stem Cell
, the new research will be used to develop cells to treat a whole host of ailments, from heart disease to blindness.
But The Washington Post
reported that the advance also brings scientists closer to creating human babies.
"While the research published Thursday involves cells that are technically an early stage embryo, the intention is not to try to grow them into a fully formed human. However the techniques in theory could be a first step toward creating a baby with the same genetic makeup as a donor," the Post says.
Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Berkeley, Calif.-based Center for Genetics and Society, told the newspaper, "This and every technical advance in cloning human tissue raises the possibility that somebody will use it to clone a human being, and that is a prospect everyone is against."
The research was conducted in California by a team that included representatives from both academia and industry and was funded by a private medical foundation and South Korea’s Ministry of Science.
The paper’s co-author, Young Gie Chung of the Los Angeles Research Institute for Stem Cell Research for CHA Health Systems , says the new technique — called somatic-cell nuclear transfer — is far from perfect. His team attempted the cloning 39 times and only two produced embryonic cells.
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