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Issue 19 - David van Gend - No

Issue 19 - David van Gend - No - Home Contact Us Subscribe...

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Home Contact Us Subscribe Donate search. .. Weblogic Current Issue Back Issues Annual Dinner Free Trial Issue Subscribe Donate Bookstore About Us Contact Us Prometheus, Pandora, and the Myths of Cloning 2006 Summer/Fall One of the earliest human trials in regenerative medicine was conducted on a crag high in the Caucasus around the dawn of time. Or not strictly human, since Prometheus was a Titan. But for fraternizing with humans he was pegged out on a high rock where the eagle of Hephaestus ate his liver out each day, and it grew back each night. With remarkable scientific insight, although without specifying the key role of hepatic stem cells, the Greeks observed that the liver is the one internal organ that has a capacity for vigorous regrowth after trauma. Prometheus was being punished for his beneficence to humans—for teaching them arts practical and aesthetic, and worst of all for stealing the secret fire of Zeus to give humans comfort in their caves and supremacy over the animals. To call scientists “Promethean” seems to me a compliment. Their role is to benefit humankind by their labours—and scientists who labor in the field of regenerative medicine using adult stem cells are most authentically Promethean. The proper term for scientists who violate norms of human relationships and ethics, unleashing destructive forces upon us, is not “Promethean” but “Pandoran.” She was the other chapter in Zeus’s punishment of Prometheus. Pandora was asexually reproduced, “forged on the anvil of Hephaestus,” essentially a laboratory creation like the modern clone. Irresistibly packaged, she wowed the impressionable brother of Prometheus, who accepted her gift of a mysterious box—which, upon being opened, released all sorts of corrupt and harmful things into the world. It is said that one thing only remained in Pandora’s box after all the noxious things had emerged: hope, groundless and unreasonable hope. With cloning, modern Pandorans raise unreasonable hope with their attractively packaged deceit. With obscure motives, they threaten forms of harm to humanity that we are only beginning to understand. Keeping the lid on Pandora’s box is still possible if we can show clearly why cloning is both redundant and wrong. Why cloning is redundant A patient of mine with advanced Parkinson’s disease hopes to be the first man treated with stem cells from the back of his nose. He is among the dozens of patients with various genetic illnesses whose stem cells have been collected for research at the Griffith University Adult Stem Cell Centre, here in Queensland, Australia.
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There are cautious, very cautious, grounds for hope for my patient, given that Griffith has successfully used these adult stem cells to treat Parkinson’s in rats, and is planning primate trials. If all goes well, human trials will follow. His case is an example of the true state of stem-cell science, as opposed to its political
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