Sunday, 18 November 2007

Dolly Professor Abandons Human Cloning

Dolly Professor Abandons Human Cloning Attempts Sunday, 18 November 2007 The Scottish scientist who created Dolly the sheep more than a decade ago said he is abandoning the cloning technique that he pioneered, according to an interview published Saturday. Professor Ian Wilmut of Edinburgh University, who led the team that created Dolly in 1996, told The Daily Telegraph that he is abandoning cloning to pursue a new technique that can create stem cells without an embryo. He has now embraced a technique developed by Prof Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, Japan, that involves genetically modifying adult cells to make them almost as flexible as stem cells. The research has been conducted on mice. He said: “The work which was described from Japan of using a technique to change cells from a patient directly into stem cells without making an embryo has got so much more potential.” “Even though it's only been described for the mouse, when we were considering which option to pursue, whether to clone or whether to copy the work in Japan, we decided to copy the work in Japan.” Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Prof Wilmut said: “Before too long we will be able to use the Yamanaka approach to achieve the same, without making embryos. In the long term, direct reprogramming will be more productive.” “I decided a few weeks ago not to pursue nuclear transfer [the method used to create Dolly the sheep]," and he admitted the new method "was easier to accept socially”. Professor Wilmut believes that within five years the new technique could provide a better and ethically more acceptable alternative to cloning embryos for medical research. Now, when Professor Wilmut has decided not to pursue his licence to clone human embryos, an award he was granted just two years ago, one can wonder about some recent actions in his career. A few years ago he was involved in and made plans to collaborate with Hwang Woo-suk on therapeutic cloning before the Korean work was uncovered to be fraudulent. Together with the American Gerald Schatten, they set up The International Stem Cell Bank in Seoul, which became nothing when the fraud was unveiled. None of these experts in cloning realized by themselves that something was wrong with the Korean results. Does he have the technical ability to make human cloning possible? Or does he lack people in his present group who would do the actual cloning work? I doubt he, Professor Wilmut, have the molecular biology expertise needed to be able to repeat Prof Yamanaka experiments on mouse fibroblasts in human counterpart. Only time will tell if this also will be another attempt to ‘build a castles in Spain’ by the Scottish professor. See also: Turning Adult Cells Embryonic ......... ZenMaster

For more on stem cells and cloning, go to CellNEWS at

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