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Subject: ETHI: Nuclear replacement in humans
From: Hans Goerl <GENETHICS@delphi.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 21:00:02 -0500

We received a substantial number of replies to this inquiry. Here are
several. Responses to the questions raised in these posts are requested.

Hans Goerl

From:   IN%"mcreynolds@lnknet.com"

In reply to your message I would like to make the observation that
future biological manufacturing processes, including cloning, are not
likely to be as expensive and complicated as nuclear processing, i.e.
making atomic weapons. Once the knowledge is out and most of it is
allready out, any competent biologist with commercially available tools
i.e. microscopics and micropipettes can set up a clandestine lab.  The
biological bases, including human cells are of course available.
  Do we want to repeat the mistakes of Prohibition, and will the
biologists and physicians of today be the "bootleggers" of tomorrow?

C.R. McReynolds M.D.

(retired pathologist)

From: David Kowbel <kowbel@WHITE.LBL.GOV>

Although the ethical controversies surrounding the successful cloning
experiments in sheep and monkeys, the laws concerning human cloning have
already been enforced by NIH's firing of geneticist Mark Hughes for
manipulating 8-cell embryos for DNA testing (see Science: 275, page 472).
Although his experiments were not actually cloning, the techniques he used
for removal of nuclei from an early embryo are similar to those used in
cloning.  As a researcher in Human genetics, I find it incredible that an
ever changing political atmosphere can dictate sanctions that will keep the
USA from being world leaders in human embryo research.  The natural
consequences of such actions will force scientists to find private sector
money to achieve their goals.  If guidelines are to be established in
cloning research it should involve experienced scientists who deal with
genetic issues on a daily basis.

David Kowbel

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today's Chicago Tribune (March 9,1997) reports that Dr.
Hughes was repeatedly warned that what he was doing was illegal, that he
deceived his superiors at NIH and his co-workers, and that his work with
pre-implantation diagnosis resulted in at least one misdagnosis and
implantation of a fetus affected by cystic fibrosis. Dr. Hughes is a former
Baylor University faculty member and held an appointment at Georgetown
University while some of his work was done.

from jbelmont@bcm.tmc.edu

I would like to express what I perceive to be a minority view that human
cloning by nuclear transfer should be considered primarily as a reproductive
option. Taken in that sense, it should be accorded the same rights of
privacy given IVF, AID, donor egg, and surrogacy.  I doubt that anyone would
ever have the desire or resources to parent large numbers of identical
offspring.  I would envision nuclear transfer technology to be used in the
rare instance in which reproductive problems preclude use of egg or sperm
from one marriage partner.  In the sense that cloning would not involve a
third party in reproduction (like AID, donor egg etc) it might even be
morally superior.  Reproduction is a powerful biological imperative and
reproductive freedom should be very carefully protected as a fundamental

I  would like to see the "grave moral and ethical concerns" articulated
plainly.  Do these concerns stem mainly from religious values surrounding
 reproduction?  Is there a compelling public interest involved?

John W. Belmont, M.D.,Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine

From: IBiG-Genetica Medica <ibig@UNIGE.IT>

Aside from moral and ethical considerations, I believe that human cloning
should not be permitted because of severe scientific uncertainties about the
results. The oocyte's cytoplasm into which the somatic nucleus is implanted
is not at all neutral, and it certainly influences the implanted genome.
This influence cannot be entirely predicted through animal experimentation.
Aside from possible major malformations, subtle changes due to cytoplasmic
effect  may induce , for instance, light  mental retardation. While an IQ of
65 can barely be detected on a sheep, it may severely affect a child. But
this information can only be obtained a posteriori, when the child is 6-8
years old. In other words, human cloning becomes equivalent to human
experimentation, which is only justified a) in the interest of the subject,
b) with his consent and c) if there is no better alternative.

Franco Ajmar, Institute of Biology and Genetics, U. of Genoa
Institute of Biology and Genetics
University of Genova
Tel  ++39 10 3537957
Fax ++39 10 3538978



From: Ola Myklebost <ola.myklebost@LABMED.UIO.NO>

I expect any society that allows a significant proportion of its population
to be cloned will become much less "fit" due to inbreeding.  Thus, only
senseless rulers will allow cloning as a means to "improve" the population.
Some crazy ruler might however find it useful to produce cloned soldiers or
workers, but not let the breed, in a horrible night-mareish future.

However, human cloning should be prohibited also beacuse of the rights of
the individual. We must expect that cloned offspring will have multiple
novel germ line mutations because they inherit everything from a single
somatic cell. Thus we have no idea about what the result will be in terms of

increased suffering of genetic disease and cancer. Such experimenation on
humans is already prohibited by international agreements, and human cloning
should also explicitly be prohibited in all countries.

Allowing cloning in only some specific cases will let the technique get out
of hand.

Another issue is whether we may allow cloning of animals. This does not
have the same ethical problems, but the usefulness is highly exaggerated,
and mainly will be saved time and labor in producing manipulated offspring,
or genocopying of valuable breeding animals. If this is allowed,
laboratories may freely establish facilities and experience in the
technique, and it will come out of control. I don't think we will then be
able prevent this to be done however illegally in humans also. Who can
check the origin of all the cells in the incubator or how an (imported)
embryo was generated?

Ola Myklebost

From: "Stephen J. Meltzer, M.D." <smeltzer@UMABNET.AB.UMD.EDU>

 We have already seen how damaging moratoria on research can be (witness the
 recently lifted ban on fetal tissue research).  Generally, the government
and l awyers do not have the foggiest notion what they're talking about.
Unfortunatel y, they are the ones who write these laws.  Despite considering
myself liberal,
I find myself staunchly anti-government on this issue.  I think government
and l awyers should leave well enough alone.

>Stephen J. Meltzer, M.D.
University of Maryland
22 S. Greene St., N3W62
Baltimore, MD 21201
phone: (001)-410-706-3375
fax: (001)-410-328-6559
email: smeltzer@umabnet.ab.umd.edu
** 8.

From: meislerm@umich.edu (Miriam Meisler)

THanks for the opportunity to comment on this issue.  I am a researcher in
human and mouse genetics.  I am not aware of any compelling reason to
permit nuclear transfer in human embryos.  The scientific questions can be
answered in other mammals.  The medical scenarios that I have heard
mentioned can be better treated with other existing technology.  I am in
favor of a ban on nuclear transfer in human embryos!
Miriam Meisler

Miriam Meisler, Human Genetics Department, 4708 Med Sci II, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0618.

Phone: (313) 763 5546   Fax : (313) 763 9691   e-mail:  meislerm@umich.edu

From:   IN%"dmmckali@email.unc.edu"  "David Mckalip"

I understand the outcry among the public and among high-ranking federal
officials (Clinton, Varmus) to preclude human cloning. However, I am a bit
dismayed that most seem to fear the creation of pure-bred
populations,clones for organ and tissue donation and the like and not see
the practical benefits of a carefully and reasonably applied cloning

The area I see that is being overlooked in the public arena is the
tremendous potential this presents for reproductive medicine.  While all
other efforts must be first exhausted, what is wrong with cloning an adult
and implanting the embryo in utero for development and raising this new
human being as your child?  The suggestion of this to many in
conversations I have had lately quite frankly "creeps them out".  However,
I think once people get past the initial fears instilled by popular
culture and science fiction they will begin to see the huge

As with all human embryo and fetal research, strict, readily enforceable
guidelines must be established.  But please, let's do so.  Let's not
ignore such a significant step.

       David McKalip, M.D.                Neurosurgery Resident
      david_mckalip@unc.edu        University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
**** 10.

From:   IN%"eblyden@khepera.com"  4-MAR-1997 17:26:50.86

I believe the debates will settle on your last statement. Is
"elimination and cure of disease"  really the ultimate goal of genetic
research?  A greater driving force in all medical research today is
profit.  This should not be viewed as an unfair attack on the individual
scientist,  though greater moral initiative is sorely needed in a
scientific community enamoured of technology.  The consequences are that
not all potential human "clonees" have the same value in the eyes of our
society.  Would there be any genetic research in a world where more
resources were focused on eradicating hunger and starvation (let alone
common infectious diseases)?  The problem with cloning research is that
it is another expression of disparity between haves and have-nots. Why
do we spend millions of dollars debating the ability to clone human
beings concurrently with spending millions on curbing human
reproduction? The answers is found in WHERE (geographically) these
monies are being spent.

Cloning is likely to be safest and most meaningful in the worlds most
genetically diverse populations- in Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
extensive cloning in these populations will pose much less of a

> 3. Are the medical benefits from such practices ever likely to benefit a
> significant number of people?
No, but they will almost certainly benefit a number of significant

Eluemuno R. Blyden,PH.D.    Khepera     http://www.khepera.com


From: "R. Scott Jokerst" <scott_jokerst@DATA-TRANSPORT.COM>

#2 first:

Beyond reproduction, you asked for arguments for embryo transfer beyond
those popularly discussed and perceived, which may bring medical or
scientific benefit.  The assumption would be that the practice should bring
benefits which cannot be realized through other avenues.  One such area, of
course, may be the realm of tissue/cell replacement therapy.

Even this, however, treads within the realm of when to consider an
organizing collection of cells (at any stage of development) to be an

Let's assume you are a female with a condition leading to the destruction
of cells or tissues for which transplantation replacement is not an option
- for whatever reason.  Could be immunological, developmental, etc.  Yet,
these may be replaced if suitable developmentally competent cells could be
found to replace the lost population.  Finally, lets' assume that this
competence cannot be found naturally, but that cloning would produce such
competence.  Potential examples might be discovered one day which would
address certain neurological, immunological, or structural problems, etc.

Many consider it OK to graft tissues, collect stem cells, or related
technologies, for healing purposes.  With cloning (or for that matter,
induction of a parthenogenic event), the issue is that the resultant
collection of animated cells is destined for (or has acheived)
individuality.  Yet, it too, in this case, has been derived solely from the
benefiting recipient.  So, have we simply activated a cell in some way
which renders it and its destined product a suitable tissue donor?  Or,
have we purposefully created a "detached" Siamese twin, to be canibalized
for parts?

Or both?

    R. Scott Jokerst (510-648-8229)    scott_jokerst@data-transport.com
       Biological Data Transport

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