Howard's End: Teaching Old Dogmas New Tricks
Global outrage is building on the news that scientists in America have cloned the first human embryo by scrapping out the DNA from a human egg cell, injecting it with the nucleus of human skin cells and then kick-starting new growth in the egg with an electrical charge. It's great news, writes Maree Howard.
Religious and political leaders worldwide, from President Bush, to the Vatican to the European Commission, have all condemned the news that a U.S. company has cloned a human embryo for the first time.
Across the world leaders are now rushing into typical damage control mode which simply means they have not been keeping up with the scientific play or worse, they have shown little or no interest, or have not been listening, to what has been taking place in the medical scientific community since the early 1970's.
Frankly guys, you're way too late - the genie is out of the bottle and it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Look, we are an electrical animal, not just chemical. It was a real joy, therefore, for me to see the American scientists finally use electrical stimulation of unspecialised cells to start regeneration growth.
The technology has been around since 1966 when my husband first became interested in the theory that chemical reactions, along with growth and healing in humans, is driven by DC electrical currents in the nerves in the minuscule picoamp and nanoamp range.
In 1948 Meryl Rose conducted a monumental experiment which proved the hypothesis that cancer cells were not special, but merely embryonic cells in a post-embryonic body. Dedifferentiate those cancer cells back to unspecialised embryonic cells and then let the normal body redifferentiation processes take over.
But surely, you must be thinking, if these theories have a potential for cure the research establishment would have jumped at the chance to support it. Unfortunately, even though the detooling and retooling of cells has now been accepted by all of biology, the old habits still persist that once a particular cell always a particular cell.
Furthermore, profits from drugs are what drives medical investment now - nothing else.
Even so, starting with penicillin, the pharmaceutical industry is just two generations old if you ignore digitalis, quinine, mercury, sulphur and perhaps aspirin and chicken soup. But let's face it, most of the drugs can hardly go beyond treating just the symptoms.
Dedifferentiation and redifferentiation of cells from primitive to specialised and back again is possible. After all, all cells still contain the specific instructions which made us in the first place. It's just that as we develop in the womb the instructions get turned off so we just need to turn them back on again.
The American scientists who cloned the first human using electrical stimulation have finally shown that the old dogma is just that - old.