Ever since the birth of Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned, in 1996, the question of therapeutic cloning disappeared. But two back-to-back publications are apparently changing the tone (Gènéthique press review on April 21st, 2014 and on April 28th, 2014). Is therapeutic cloning set to return and should we be worried about it?
He started off by stating that the technique used for Dolly, namely “nucleus transfer cloning”, “does not necessarily lead to the reproduction of a living organism”. In 1996, biologists actually thought that, if progress was being made, it would not be achieved by multiplying sheep but “through producing precious stem cells on request that would subsequently be used as ‘spare parts’ for the body“, by culturing the cloned embryo and not by reimplanting it.
Therapeutic cloning is not easy to implement. The journalist mentioned the fact that both primates and man “were particularly refractory to cloning“, and a large number of attempts have failed.
Will this success lead researchers to grant access to therapeutic cloning in order to obtain differentiated adult cells? This is contrary to biologist Dieter Egli’s standpoint, who “believes in the future of personalised cell therapy”. According to Marc Peschanski, Director of I-Stem, “IPS cells are simpler to use. Cloning cells with the genetic heritage of a specific individual is already rather ambitious. I don’t think we can realistically apply this method to a large number of patients“.