Spring 2005

A Way Around the Cloning Objection Against ANT? A Brief Response

Adrian J. Walker

"OAR, like all the other methods of ANT, is not the creation of stem cells without the creation of an embryo, but the cloning of a modified embryo. OAR, in a word, is cloning with a twist."

Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming (OAR) is the name of a variant of the Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) proposal that has recently been advanced under the aegis of a number of respected, mostly “pro-life” scholars in a short Joint Statement describing and endorsing the new procedure.1 The endorsers present OAR as an improvement on the hitherto existing proposed methods of ANT, which aim to produce an entity that “undergoes or mimics embryonic development”—and so cannot entirely quiet the suspicion that we are dealing with the cloning of defective embryos after all. OAR, by contrast, seeks to obviate any suspicion of cloning by “immediately produc[ing]” “a pluripotent cell that could be cultured to establish a pluripotent stem cell line.” OAR, in other words, would forestall the cloning objection against ANT by directly producing a cell that itself is already a pluripotent stem cell and was never anything else, certainly not anything that could be confused with an embryo. OAR, like a savvy entrepreneur, seeks to make ANT airtight against the charge that it is cloning with a twist by springing right from investment (the donor cell genome) to profit (pluripotent stem cell) while cutting out the developmental middle man altogether.


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1. Hadley Arkes et al., “Production of Pluripotent Stem Cells by Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming. Joint Statement.” A text of the Joint Statement can be found at http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.2374/pub_detail.asp. All citations in what follows are from the Joint Statement.