Human Cell Cloning Sparks Ethical Debate
A Korean scientist has discovered a new method to clone human cells passing through their blastocyst stage. Blastocyst refers to a cell cluster that has emerged from its embryonic stage and is now ready to form part of a mammal's body.
Dr. Hwang Woo-seok, who has been working with several veterinarian colleagues at Seoul National University, announced on August 9 that he successfully nurtured a cell taken from a 36-year old man's ear up to the blastocyst stage. He is seeking approval for a patent from fifteen countries, including the United States.
Dr. Hwang said that his research would not involve any ethical controversies since cloned blastocysts will only be nurtured in vitro for the development of bodily organs and is not to be transferred to the mother's womb for fertilization. However, critics counter that since Dr. Hwang's research deals with cell development after embryonic formation, there could be serious ethical ramifications.