News, 15 May 2003
15 May 2003
15 May 2003 The Clonaid company which claims to have cloned five humans has published a picture of one of the babies whom it says it has created. Dr Brigitte Boisselier, Clonaid's president, and Raël, the leader of the Raelian cult, exhibited the photograph on a computer in Brazil where Raël has been promoting a book. Although no scientific proof has yet been provided of the alleged cloning, the company says that it will soon be shown that the child in the picture has the same DNA as a deceased sibling. [New Zealand Herald, 15 May ] It remains to be seen what independent verification will be offered of Clonaid's evidence. The New Zealand government's proposed legislation on human reproduction includes a ban on cloning for live birth but does not appear to forbid it for research. The law would allow children created with donor eggs or sperm to know the donors' names, a change from current policy though it will not act retrospectively. There would be a committee to advise the health minister on decisions concerning the planned law and an ethics committee would consider research proposals. There would be a ban on commercial surrogacy, putting human embryos in animals and vice versa, and the creation of human-animal hybrids. The opposition National party has said it will support the measure if ethics committees are required to reach decisions more quickly. A select committee is considering the proposals and hearing submissions, and the law is expected to come into force next year. [nzoom.com, 14 May , and Stuff, 15 May ] Stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood could be used to treat liver damage. Scientists at Washington university, Missouri, have done research with human tissue using mice and suggest that their findings could help overcome the problem of a shortage of livers for transplantation. The therapy could treat damage caused by chemotherapy, cirrhosis, radiation therapy, trauma or viruses. [Blood on EurekAlert, 14 May ] Using cells from bone marrow and umbilical cords has none of the ethical problems of obtaining such cells from human embryos.