Last week, in the Stem Cell journal, a team of American scientists (California) published the results of their research enabling them to clone adult human stem cells to create embryo stem cells. These results have generated enthusiastic comments and have rekindled the debate on therapeutic cloning.
Scientists claim that the results obtained are rather modest. Firstly because “four female donors (each paid several thousand dollars) were needed to obtain 77 oocytes” and secondly because only three embryos reached the blastocyst stage. Consequently “2 lines out of 77 attempts are hardly encouraging, even from a purely technical perspective”.
Therapeutic cloning with adult stem cells nevertheless creates and destroys embryos. The urgency adopted by the French Press Agency and taken up by the French-speaking press lacked precision. It suggests that the ethical questions raised by the destruction of fertilised embryos are being swept under the carpet with this new technique. Therapeutic cloning using adult stem cells to obtain embryo stem cells involves creating an embryo by cloning. In this particular study, “77 embryos had to be created and destroyed to obtain 2 cell lines”. The controversy is far from over!