Neanderthal clone may not happen

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Neanderthal clone may not happen
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2008 file photo, Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church poses for a photo with DNA sequence data for Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer, following a news conference in Boston. Church says reports that made him sound like he was searching for a woman to bear a Neanderthal baby are based on misunderstandings of an interview he gave the German magazine Der Spiegel. Church said the idea of bringing back Neanderthals gets brief mention as a theoretical possibility in his recent book,

The idea of cloning a Neanderthal has been in the news recently, but scientists believe it may not happen. After George Church announced he was interested in creating a Neanderthal clone and finding a surrogate mother to carry it, the story spread quickly. The Harvard geneticist has written a book and talked about the subject in a recent interview. However, scientists question the ethics and morality of his proposition.

“George Church believes it will be possible to use advanced technology to clone a Neanderthal from DNA fragments that have been found. The fragments could be used and be put together in a stem cells that would eventually become an embryo. While many are comparing his idea to “Jurassic Park,” George Church seems to believe that it is a viable concept. He is interested in finding a willing surrogate mother to carry the clone to term. Although the technology is not ready for this type of experiment, Church thinks it is close to that point.

“Cloning a Neanderthal has several ethical and moral issues. In addition, cloning a person is actually illegal according to the United Nations. Harvard geneticist Church is aware of these rules and claims his idea would only work once cloning humans becomes a normal practice. After his interview, George Church has pointed out that he does not view himself as an advocate for cloning or for recreating the Neanderthals. Instead, he believes this will eventually happen anyway and needs to be discussed.

“Discussions about cloning humans, animals and even plants have been prevalent in recent years. Although the United Nations has outlawed human cloning, this obviously has not stopped curious researchers from thinking about the idea. George Church’s book and interview raise uncomfortable questions about the morality of cloning an extinct being. Church points out that a large amount of valuable information could be learned about prehistoric ancestors from this process, but is it ethical to create a person just to study him in a lab?

“Many scientists disagree with George Church’s idea and believe the entire concept of cloning is simple exploitation. There is no real need to clone a Neanderthal or find a human woman to carry the child. Curiosity in science may be important, but it should not cloud judgment. It is impossible to determine how a Neanderthal will react in a human environment or if it could even survive in the modern world.



 

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