21 January 2003
Picture: Michele Wambaugh
Chennai: “The human clone claim may after all be a hoax,“ says Dr Krishna R Dronamraju, president, Foundation for Genetic Research, USA, and advisor to the US secretary of agriculture. “It took a few hundred attempts to achieve a successful animal clone. By the same count, it should take several hundred attempts before a human clone is created. Further, there is no independent verification on Clonaid's claim.“
Dronamraju, formerly a member of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, National Institutes of Health, US government, also advised Hillary Clinton, former US president Bill Clinton's wife, on genetic engineering. He was also a member of Bill Clinton's delegation to India in 2000.
According to Dronamraju, a clone may not be the parent's prototype — physiologically, socially or culturally. “There is also the ageing effect the clone might develop. Such reproductive cloning does not contribute anything to human society, though it can be commercially advantageous to animal breeding.“
Instead, what scientists and researchers should do is to try and conduct therapeutic cloning, he adds. “That is, cloning human organs [lungs, heart or kidney] so that organ transplantation can be done with ease. And the success depends on stem-cell research.“
(Recently the Drug Controller General of India had asked the Indian Council of Medical Research to draft comprehensive guidelines on collection, maintenance, preservation as also therapeutic areas to do stem-cell research.)