After a decade of failed attempts, researchers have finally managed to establish stem cell lines derived from cloned human embryos. Such patient-specific stem cells are potentially valuable for studying—and perhaps someday treating—a variety of diseases. What does the cloning breakthrough mean for medical research? And what ethical concerns does it raise? Does it pave the way for reproductive human cloning? Should the United States join other countries in banning any attempts to use the technique to make a human baby? And should donors of human oocytes—necessary for the cloning procedure—be paid for their donations, or does that open the door to exploitation? Does an alternative way of making patient-specific stem cells, called iPS cells, make clone-derived stem cells superfluous?
Join stem cell and cloning expert Dieter Egli of the New York Stem Cell Foundation and bioethicist Debra Mathews of Johns Hopkins University on Thursday, 27 June, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live chat when we address these questions and take yours. Be sure to leave your queries for our guests in the comment box below.
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Dieter Egli is a researcher at the New York Stem Cell Foundation who studies reprogramming and nuclear transfer. In 2011, he and his colleagues at Columbia University used nuclear transfer to make patient-specific stem cells using the DNA of patients with type 1 diabetes, although the cells had an extra set of chromosomes.
Debra Mathews is a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. She oversees the institute's Stem Cell Policy and Ethics program and is a member of the steering committee of the Hinxton Group, an international consortium of scientists, ethicists, and policy experts who evaluate the ethics and policy challenges raised by stem cell science.
Gretchen Vogel is a contributing correspondent for Science. She writes about stem cell research and developmental biology for the magazine.