Nuclear transfer to prevent mitochondrial DNA disorders: revisiting the debate on reproductive cloning.
Bredenoord, A L
De Wert, G
Reproductive biomedicine online 2011 Feb; 22(2): 200-7
Preclinical experiments are currently performed to examine the feasibility of several types of nuclear transfer to prevent mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) disorders. Whereas the two most promising types of nuclear transfer to prevent mtDNA disorders, spindle transfer and pronuclear transfer, do not amount to reproductive cloning, one theoretical variant, blastomere transfer does. This seems the most challenging both technically and ethically. It is prohibited by many jurisdictions and also the scientific community seems to avoid it. Nevertheless, this paper examines the moral acceptability of blastomere transfer as a method to prevent mtDNA disorders. The reason for doing so is that most objections against reproductive cloning refer to reproductive adult cloning, while blastomere transfer would amount to reproductive embryo cloning. After clarifying this conceptual difference, this paper examines whether the main non-safety objections brought forward against reproductive cloning also apply in the context of blastomere transfer. The conclusion is that if this variant were to become safe and effective, dismissing it because it would involve reproductive cloning is unjustified. Nevertheless, as it may lead to more complex ethical appraisals than the other variants, researchers should initially focus on the development of the other types of nuclear transfer to prevent mtDNA disorders.
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