Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cloning May End Up Having Little Practical Application Landmark Procedure May Prove Limited by Cost

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cloning May End Up Having Little Practical Application Landmark Procedure May Prove Limited by Cost

Article excerpt

A cloned lamb named Dolly in Scotland could lower the price of medicines used to treat exotic diseases in the United States, experts in St. Louis said Monday.

It might help feed the world's hungry millions through the development of hardier plant strains. It might even put better tasting beef on the dinner table at a more affordable price.

Then again, the experts say, it might turn out to be prohibitively expensive, another technological advance that falls short of its advance publicity. "I think this is an enormous breakthrough," said Dr. William Sly, chairman of the biochemistry and molecular biology department at St. Louis University Medical School. "It changes the rules for animal husbandry." Not so fast, cautions Teresa Thiel, director of biotechnology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. "There have been other technologies in the not-so-distant past that everyone thought would be the answer and turned out not to be," she said. "Look at in vitro fertilization. It works, and many people use it. But others can't afford it, and it certainly isn't the answer for everyone." Just days after researchers in Scotland announced they have successfully cloned the sheep - the first successful cloning of an adult mammal - and days before their work is published in the journal Nature, experts are still struggling with its implications. The Scottish researchers did what many believed impossible: They took DNA from cells in an adult mammal, implanted the cells in an unfertilized egg and created a lamb that is genetically identical to its DNA donor. Previously, based on the results of tests done on frogs in the early 1960s, researchers believed that DNA from adults could not be used to make a complete animal. One implication of the work is that genetically engineered animals that produce certain proteins, hormones or enzymes useful in fighting disease - animals the likes of which already exist - could be copied in large numbers. Right now, for example, an enzyme treatment is available to fight Gaucher's disease. Patients with the disease lack an enzyme; because of that, fatty deposits build up inside their cells and the swollen cells eventually destroy bone and other tissue. …

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