New Cloning Reports

John K Clark (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 21:03:26 -0700 (PDT)


Although not yet published in a scientific journal, The new York Times has
gotten wind of what Dr. Ian Wilmut and his company, PPL, are up to. They've
cloned another sheep, but this time they've inserted a human gene into it
that is operational in every cell of its body, including the germ cells,
that means the gene would be passed on into the next generation. Previously
the only way to do this was very slow and expensive because you had to use
hard to find fertilized egg cell and the success rate was very low, Wilmut
can now use any cell and mammals have many trillions to spare. In addition,
the old method could only add genes it could not remove them, with Wilmut's
new method genes can be added or removed at will, this could be very
important, and fast. Pig organs aren't very good for transplants because
each pig cell has a sugar on its surface that the human immune system doesn't
like, if the gene for this sugar was removed things could get interesting.

Dr. Lee Silver of Princeton University says of this:

"After Dolly [the first cloned sheep, also made by Wilmut] everyone would
have predicted this, but they were saying it would happen in 5 or 10 years.
We are getting closer and closer to human beings too. All of this can be
passed over to human beings. Genetic engineering of human beings is now
really on the horizon."

Dr. Keith Campbell of the PPL team says:

"Two years ago people would have thought what we have achieved to date was
impossible. I certainly did."

Although they certainly deserve it, I'll bet that Wilmut and Campbell will
not receive the Nobel Prize for this, at least not for many years, it's too
controversial. I hope I'm wrong.

John K Clark

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