Healthy Evidence

Japanese 'breakthrough' in stem cells / Send in the clones

Japanese researchers may have stumbled on a quick and easy way to create stem cells - expose adult (rodent) blood cells to a low-level acid bath.

If replicable in humans then it could be the stuff of Nobel Prizes. If not, expensive dead end.

But it does hold out the possibility of making human cloning a reality - could rich people end up cloning a copy of themselves to harvest spare organs?

2 Replies

The exciting thing about this technique is how (relatively) simple it is. While it may open the door to mass human cloning you would still need to find the women/wombs to do the rest of the job so it would be far easier and quicker to be able to use the cells directly rather than wasting time making a whole person. If this really does work in humans you don't need to grow a whole new organ anyway, the cells could be used to repair damage in situ.

Given that this works best in cells from new borns - I wonder how long it will be until there are companies charging new parents vast amounts of money to transform and bank their babies cells (as currently happens with cord blood)?


Human cloning is a reality, at least on paper - from the science point of view, we are not more complicated than a sheep. But I think like a lot of things that seem huge and mad it will probably never take off.

Apart from nervousness from politicians, I think there will continue to be huge unease from the general public and then, finally and most important there will be the "what's the point?" aspect - which is the biggest killer of ideas.

But that is not what this is really about - there are a lot of uses for stem cells, but production is so controversial that it has been a bit of a barrier to further research uses. In the long term, this will, with any luck, just ease that side of things a bit.