Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The scientist who inspired the creation of Dolly the Sheep has now said human cloning is within our reach, bringing some hope of restoration to parents who have lost their child to a tragic death, reported the Telegraph.
Nobel prize-winning Sir John Gurdon has been furthering the study of cloning since the 1950s and has had success cloning animals such as frogs. Now, he´s claiming we could begin to see fully functional human clones within 50 years.
Sir Gurdon admits that human cloning will lead to several ethical issues in the beginning, but hopes that the general public will soon realize the full medical potential of this advancement. For example, Sir Gurdon says in-vitro fertilization first received similar criticism, but once the first “Test Tube Baby” was born in 1978, people´s attitudes changed on the matter.
The road to human cloning won´t be an easy one. As it stands, many of the animals cloned using today´s methods emerge deformed. As such, scientific and technological advancements need to be made, but Sir Gurdon has hope that these will happen within half a century.
In an interview with BBC Radio Four´s The Life Scientific, Sir Gurdon said he expected a mammal to be cloned within 50 years when he first cloned a frog in the 1950s. He believes his new prediction will also one day become true.
“When my first frog experiments were done an eminent American reporter came down and said ‘How long will it be before these things can be done in mammals or humans’,” said Sir Gurdon.
“I said: ‘Well, it could be anywhere between 10 years and 100 years — how about 50 years?´ It turned out that wasn´t far off the mark as far as Dolly was concerned. Maybe the same answer is appropriate.”
In order to create a fully functioning human clone, Gurdon claims scientists would effectively have to produce an identical twin. This could skirt any ethical dilemmas, as these scientists would only be replicating what nature has already produced.
“I take the view that anything you can do to relieve suffering or improve human health will usually be widely accepted by the public — that is to say if cloning actually turned out to be solving some problems and was useful to people, I think it would be accepted.”
Sir Gurdon has an eye towards using human cloning to bring children who have become victim to tragic deaths back to life for their parents and families. He´s even been conducting his own informal surveys as he gives public lectures, asking the audience if they´d be opposed to using a mother´s eggs and existing skin cells from the first child to recreate it once again.
“The average vote on that is 60 per cent in favor,” he said.
“The reasons for ‘no’ are usually that the new child would feel they were some sort of a replacement for something and not valid in their own right.”
In the end, the Nobel prize winning scientist says the parents should have final say on whether they bring their child back to life.
“But if the mother and father, if relevant, want to follow that route, why should you or I stop them?”