Rarely have science, politics, and international diplomacy converged as intensely as they have over the past few days.
Researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center have accomplished what some scientists equate with breaking the sound barrier: creating cloned embryos from an adult monkey and isolating its stem cells. Since monkeys are humans' closest relatives and embryonic stem cells might treat devastating injuries and diseases, this research has invigorated prospects for developing patient-specific embryonic stem cells for humans by copying the Oregon researchers' new approach. After all, monkey see, monkey do.
Yet another level of intrigue comes from the fact that cloning an embryo to obtain stem cells involves the same underlying process as cloning an embryo to create a living, breathing clone: taking the nucleus from a body cell, sticking it into an egg, and triggering its early development. Research cloning involves stopping this development after a few days to cull the early embryos' stem cells; reproductive cloning entails placing the developing embryo into a surrogate until the clone is born.
Scientists have not yet created a living cloned...