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FRIGID RESURRECTIONS New Zealand Herald Feb 28 1997


LONDON - The successful cloning of a sheep proves it is possible to clone dead humans who have been frozen according to strict guidelines, the Scottish researchers who cloned the animal said yesterday. A seven-month-old sheep called Dolly - cloned from mammary cells and narned after the American coun- try singer Dolly Parton - was revealed to the world earlier this week as the first clone of an adult animal. But no mention was made until yesterday that freezing was part of the process used to carry out the cloning by scientists at the Roslin Institute ahd PPL Therapeutics in Edinburgh.

PPL's managing director, Ron James, told Sky television news: 'The cells from which Dolly was produced were, in fact, at one stage frozen." Scientists on the Rollin Institute team had previously warned there was "no way that we can clone from a frozen animal or human." However, they said yesterday that this referred to animals or humans placed straight into freezers after their deaths. They added that human cells subjected to controlled freezing, using special protective chemicals like those used with Dolly, could technically be cloned. - AFP

SEND IN THE CLONES extracts from Gilbert Wong's article New Zraland Herald 15 Mar 1997

From Fay Weldon's "The Cloning of Joanna May to the throng of child Hitlers in The Boys from Brazil, or Michael Keatons in "Multiplicity", the very idea of cloning strikes an immediate chord of distrust and fear. The Vatican has called for an immediate worldwide ban on human cloning, while President Clinton has convened a panel to review the ethical and legal implications of cloning in the United States. In Germany, a country whose Second World War history of eugenic experiments has resulted in a high level of distrust in such technology, politicians want cloning banned altogether. New Zealand has no legislation to prevent human cloning although theMinister of Justice, Doug Graham, promised this week that the Government would introduce such a law.

Otago University ethicist Barbara Nicholas says this country's health ethics committees will face human cloning proposals within ten years. Cloning is a challenge to the human condition, she says. "It goes to how we control how we reproduce and what level of control we should seek over future generations. ... The anxieties are symbolic of the deep fears of what happens when we reject the richness of human variation." Clones are not identical twin in a societal sense, she says, because twins usually know they share the same genetic heritage and upbringing.

The science fiction scenarios for cloning include the ability to produce spare body parts or to raise supermen or superbrains. One can imagine how 100 Albert Einsteins or Elvis Prestleys might change the world. Nicholas argues "If we did that, we risk treating people as a commodity. They have a particular value, rather than accepting that when we reproduce, we do so to enhance the rich variety of life".

In 1993 embryologists at George Washington University cloned human embryos: they took cells from 17 human embryos (defective ones that an infertility clinic was going to discard), all two to eight cells in size. They teased apart the cells, grew each one in a lab dish, and achieved a few 32-celled embryos - a size that could be implanted in a woman.

And it is spurious to suggest that a clone of Albert Einstein would be as brilliant. Culture and upbringing have as much to do as genetics with what we become, she says. "We don't want to predetermine people because he or she might have a certain set of genes, there's something wrong about saying they will be that type of person. People are more complicated than that." Nicholas can see no scenario for cloning at present, but she predicts that within a decade medical ethicists will be confronting such proposals. "What cloning presents us with is a new situation of how we understand ourselves. It goes to how we control how we reproduce and what level of control we should seek over future generations."

Ingrid Winship, a senior lecturer in clinical genetics at the Auckland University medical school, sees good reasons medically and ethically to prevent widespread cloning of animals or humans. She says, "Sure, we can think of situations where someone might declare 'this is a perfect man, let's make some copies for the next generation! If we do the same thing with females we might even generate a human super line.' Alternatively there may be persons who wish to dispense with the requirement for the opposite gender and depend on cloning for perpetuating the species. This will also create problems. As soon as inbred lines are achieved, the probability of inherited disorders emerging is greatly increased. Science moves very fast. That's okay, but when science affects humanity to this extent then we have to do audits and see if this should be done.

Tervit, the scientist whose colleagues now hold the ability to do more cloning research, says the team will assess reaction to Dolly - before deciding if they will repeat the experiment. As far as human clones are concemed, the Ruakura scientists say it is definitely not Ag-Research's brief. Asked to consider the scenario, Tervit says, "My answer has always been: I don't understand why you'd want to clone humans. Our uniqueness is important. But I think one has to be realistic and say the kind of technology we have would work if applied to humans."

Earlier this year PPL the company that supported the Roslin cloning threw a coming-out party for Rosie, a transgenic cow containing a genetically engineered human gene whose milk contains alpha-lactalbumin. This protein contains just about all the amino acids a newborn human needs. The Roslin cloning served as a next step to replicat such transgenic animals.

Generally adult somatic cells have already specialized to the point where they will not transcribe all the genes necessary to develop a differentiated embryo. As a result skin cells do not make estrogen, brain cells do not make insulin. Proteins seem to block a cell's access tothese genes.

At Roslin, first the researchers removed udders cells from a six-year-old pregnant sheep. They grew the cells in lab dishes imersing them in nutrients. Then in the eureka step they dialed back the nutrients to a twentieth of what the cells need to grow. After five days the cells had become quiescent, stilled at exactly the stage in the life cycle where their genes are open to 'reprogramming of gene expression' and thus able to be reactivated by cytoplasmic signals from the ovum into which they are implanted. Of 227 adult cells fused with ova, only 13 pregnancies resulted and only one - Dolly was born alive.

The experiment at Roslin has also been repeated in New Zealand. Dr Robin Tervit of Ruakura "We're the second group in the world to do it and we're very excited. It's an important breakthrough because we did it so quickly." Unlike Dolly, they were cloned from cell lines taken from a frozen embryo. Wells then selected a series of cells from cell culture and implanted them in an unfertilized egg from which the DNA had been removed. He then applied a tiny electrical charge for 60 milliseconds to fuse cell and egg and kickstart replication.


THE Agriculture Ministry is to stop funding the project that produced Dolly, the first cloned sheep. Ian Wilmut and colleagues at Scotland's Roslin Institute and biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics caused a global uproar when they announced they had cloned a sheep - the flrst time an adult animal had been successfully cloned. But the Daily Telegraph said yesterday that ministry funding, currently $600,000, would be halved next month and withdrawn in April next year. The team that made the cloning breakthrough at the Roslin Institute learned the funding news in a letter from the ministry on Thursday. An institute, spokeswoman confirmed the move but would not comment further. The Telegraph quoted a ministry spokeswoman as saying: "If, they have researched what they were supposed to have researched, then that's it. The funding will come to an end." The institute's director, Grahame Bulfield, said he had been warned of cuts last November yet remained shocked at the news. "I will move heaven and earth to keep resources in that cloning programme," he was quoted as saying. The cloning team was said to be despondent, fearing redundancies and scientists being poached by rival teams from abroad as they seek to catch up, notably in Australia. One Edinburgh scientist speculated that the government was made so uncomfortable by the cloning debate that it decided to axe much of the biotechnology research at Roslin. The patents for the cloning technology, however, are held by Roslin. Following news of the breakthrough government ministers across Europe raced to ease public concern, promising thorough checks on scientists and bans on carbon - copy humans. But newspapers invoked images of "Master races" and movie stars on production lines, while politicians demanded speedy investigations of just what genetic researchers are doing. - Reuters


Gina Kolata, "A Headstone, a Coffin and Now, the DNA Bank," THE NEW YORK TIMES, December 24, 1996.

"The time of death is the last easy opportunity to retrieve a DNA sample," said George Kriegshauser, the regional president for Service Corporation International, a company that owns several funeral homes and cemeteries. He said his company was taking "a very, very soft approach" to promote storing in perpetuity a person's DNA with a product being offered to funeral home directors by GeneLink in New Jersey. John R. DePhillipo, Chief Executive Officer of GeneLink, sees funeral directors as the start of a DNA banking empire. He is beginning to approach cancer specialists and pathologists to sell the services. He said other obvious places would be infertility clinics.

David Newcomer, a funeral director at D.W. Newcomer's Sons, a funeral home in Kansas City, said "we hope to make a profit." He declined to say what the profit would be. The DNA retrieval kits cost the funeral homes approximately $100. GeneLink is suggesting funeral homes charge $175-$295 for collection of DNA and storage for 25 years. The process of retrieving DNA from the deceased person is to swab the inside of the person's mouth with a normal cotton swab. The DNA is then sent to GeneLink where it is processed to retrieve human DNA from the mix with other DNA such as bacteria.

Dr. Barbara Weber, a medical geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania also stores DNA for research purposes. She said the company was capitalizing on "people's fears about their DNA." Medically, unless a person has a strong history of disease, she said, "I can't see that this is going to be of tremendous value."


The scientists who created Dolly the sheep, the world's first adult clone, say the develpments could be applied to human cloning soon, and there should be intenational laws preventing such work. "If you really wanted to do it, it could be done," said Ian Wilmut, the chief scientist at Scotland's Roslin Institute where the sheep experiment -was carried out. - News that a sheep had been cloned using a cell from an adult sheep shocked the world last week and prompted a flurry of soul searching about whether the technology was morally acceptable. This week President Clinton banned federal funding of cloning and German Research. Minister Juergen Ruettgers called for a worldwide ban on cloning human beings. Danish scientists trying to produce cloned cattle said they were halting experiments pending a full debate. The scientists behind the technique, developed at the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics Plc, told British MPs this week that work with human eggs would be "distressing" and offensive." Ian Wilmut said that if scientists were prepared to take the 'distressing" step of working with 1000 human eggs, the size of the experiment that produced the sheep breakthrough, you might expect to make significant progress in one or two years." But he added: "It is the unanimous view of the group within the institute and within the company that we would find this sort of work with human embryos offensive, "We itould see no clinical reason why you would wish to make a copy of a person and we are pleased that it is already illegal in this country so we would support wholeheartedly the idea of [international] prohibition in as effective a way as possible." His testimony went directly against Ruth Deech, of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility research, who said she could see circumstances under which cloning people would be desirable.

She told the same committee that, for example, people at risk of having a baby with certain rare genetic disorders could instead be cloned, leaving the baby free of the defect. There was no need for a blanket prohibition on human cloning but perhaps the law needed "tweaking" to make sure experiments were properly controlled, she suggested. But the scientists from PPL and the Roslin Institute defended their work with animals, saying it held out the prospect of cheaper food and new remedies for genetic diseases. They say cloning is a natural growth of their research into animal breeding and the production of medicines from animal blood and milk REUTER

November 30, 1998

Xinhua via NewsEdge Corporation : LONDON (Nov. 29) XINHUA - A Scottish scientist is on the brink of making medical history by becoming the first person to clone a human embryo, The Sunday Times reported Sunday. Dr Austin Smith, director of Edinburgh University's center of genome research, is expected to pioneer a revolutionary form of cloning by giving every baby an embryonic "twin," from whom spare body parts can be grown and life-threatening diseases treated. He is in consultation with the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh which created Dolly, the first cloned mammal, and said that within the next 12 years it would be routine for every baby to have an embryonic clone. "All it takes now is financial investment," he said. "This therapy will be the medicine of the next century." A working party from Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority and the human genetics advisory commission will report to the government within the next few weeks. It is understood that it will recommend approval of new "therapeutic" cloning but come down firmly against reproductive cloning by replicating a living human being. If the group's report is accepted by ministers, it would mean that Britain could be the first to clone a human embryo, The Sunday Times said.

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