The promise of cloning for human medicine

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7085.913 (Published 29 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:913

Not a moral threat but an exciting challenge

  1. Robert Winston, Professor of fertility studiesa
  1. a Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0HS

    The production of a sheep clone, Dolly, from an adult somatic cell1 is a stunning achievement of British science. It also holds great promise for human medicine. Sadly, the media have sensationalised the implications, ignoring the huge potential of this experiment. Accusations that scientists have been working secretively and without the chance for public debate are invalid. Successful cloning was publicised in 1975,2 and it is over eight years since Prather et al published details of the first piglet clone after nuclear transfer.3

    Missing from much of the debate about Dolly is recognition that she is not an identical clone. Part of our genetic material comes from the mitochondria in the cytoplasm of the egg. In Dolly's case only the nuclear DNA was transferred. Moreover, we are a product of our nurture as much as our genetic nature. Monovular twins are genetically closer than are artificially produced clones, and no one could deny that such twins have quite separate identities. …

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