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December 27, 2000

The Ethical Validity of Using Nuclear Transfer in Human Transplantation

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Advanced Cell Technology, Worcester, Mass (Drs Lanza, Cibelli, and West); Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia (Dr Caplan); Department of Molecular Biology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ (Dr Silver); and Ethics Institute, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (Dr Green).


Controversies Section Editor: Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, Executive Deputy Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(24):3175-3179. doi:10.1001/jama.284.24.3175

Therapeutic cloning (or cell replacement by means of nuclear transfer) is a new biomedical technology that has the potential to transform medicine. Therapeutic cloning involves the transfer of the nucleus from one of the patient's cells into an enucleated donor oocyte for the purpose of making medically useful and immunologically compatible cells and tissues (Figure 1).1 Although the phrase "therapeutic cloning" has been most widely used in this context, we believe that it is misleading. "Cloning" brings to mind images of the replication of a single genome for reproductive purposes. In therapeutic cloning, however, no such replication is involved. For this reason, we prefer the term "cell replacement through nuclear transfer" (CRNT). In this article, we use both terms so that readers may become accustomed to the more technically accurate terminology. Moreover, because therapeutic cloning requires the creation and disaggregation ex utero of blastocyst stage embryos, this technique raises complex ethical questions.24 While these questions must be addressed and understood, we believe that a counterbalancing and stronger ethical case can be made for therapeutic cloning research.

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