Advanced Cell Technologies Inc., a biotechnology company based in Worcester, Mass., announced Sunday that it successfully cloned human embryos Oct. 13.
The technique used, somatic-cell nuclear transfer, involves placing a cell from a human donor into an egg cell whose nucleus has been removed. The donor's cell is reprogrammed by the egg into an embryonic state, during which stem cells genetically identical to the donor are produced. These stem cells are able to differentiate into any cell type in the body.
Sean B. Carroll, a UW-Madison professor of molecular biology and genetics, said the distinction must be made between cloned human embryos and cloned human beings.
\[Human] cloning would be the creation of an individual. They created cells. There is no evidence this has become complete in terms of development,"" Carroll said.
This research is intended to aid studies on diseases such as diabetes, cancer, AIDS and Parkinson's, according to Robert P. Lake, M.D., vice president of medical and scientific development for ACT.
""This work sets the stage for human therapeutic cloning as a potentially limitless source of immune-compatible cells for tissue engineering and transplantation medicine,"" Lake said in a statement. ""Our intention is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to make lifesaving therapies for a wide range of human diseases and conditions.""
According to Carroll, research involving cloned embryos is a tough problem that the United States has to deal with, because it will go on around the world. However, Carroll said researchers in the field of developmental biology, which encompasses this type of research, would be ""absolutely and unequivocally"" against cloning an individual human being.
Carroll also said more research must be conducted before the developments will be clinically useful.
""One has to understand how to grow and manipulate these cells,"" Carroll said. ""There is a lot of work to be done.\