>The Washington Post is reporting a major split among the world’s leading cloned embryo stem cell researchers.It seems that the US expert, Gerald Schatten, is convinced that the veterinarian, Dr. Wu Suk Hwang, has not been honest about the ethics of obtaining human oocytes (eggs) for his cloned human embryos. Those cloned human embryos are then “disaggregated” or destroyed in order to attempt to culture “patient specific stem cells.”
It is illegal in Korea, where the veterinarian has his laboratory, to pay for women to undergo the oocyte harvesting, whether the future purpose is to make an embryo by in vitro fertilization (IVF) that is destined for implantation in a woman for reproduction or for the purpose of making a cloned human embryo by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT or NT). Last week, one of the physicians associated with the veterinarian’s lab was arrested on charges that he was involved in a scheme to buy and sell oocytes and embryos for women who wish to have a baby.
Now, we learn:
For many months after Hwang’s 2004 publication, rumors had spread in scientific circles that the eggs Hwang used to achieve that landmark result had been taken from a junior scientist in his lab. That situation, if true, would be in violation of widely held ethics principles that preclude people in positions of authority from accepting egg donations from underlings. The rules are meant to prevent subtle — or not-so-subtle — acts of coercion.
Questions have also circulated as to whether the woman received illegal payments for her role.
Schatten said that Hwang had repeatedly denied the rumor and that he had believed Hwang until yesterday. “I now have information that leads me to believe he had misled me,” Schatten said. “My trust has been shaken. I am sick at heart. I am not going to be able to collaborate with Woo Suk.”
May I see a show of hands from those who are surprised that men who are willing to carry out cloning, repeated experiments on human embryos which includes creating those embryos with the express intention of killing them are not ethical?
Thanks to blog.bioethics.net for the heads up!