X-Message-Number: 21623
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 09:00:17 -0700
From: James Swayze <>
Subject: Book reviews
References: <>


New England Journal of Medicine [https://web.princeton.edu/]

Volume  339:134-135  July 9, 1998 Number 2

Clone: The road to Dolly, and the path ahead
Remaking Eden: Cloning and beyond in a brave new world

By Gina Kolata. 276 pp. New York, William Morrow, 1998. $23. ISBN 0-688-15692-4.
By Lee M. Silver. 317 pp. New York, Avon Books, 1997. $25. ISBN 0-380-97494-0.

On February 27, 1997, Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at an animal-husbandry
research center near
Edinburgh, Scotland, announced in Nature the birth of Dolly. This was no mere
birth notice: Dolly was
produced by fusing the nucleus of a cell from the udder of a six-year-old sheep
with an unfertilized,
nucleus-free egg from another sheep. For the first time, the restricted genetic

information in the nucleus of a differentiated mammalian cell was reprogrammed 
reveal everything it knew about forming all the
other cells of the body. In effect, cellular time was reversed   a terminally
differentiated cell reverted to its
primordial ancestor. Moreover, Dolly also showed that chemical messages in the
cytoplasm of an
unfertilized egg can awaken the genes that differentiation puts to sleep. The
identification of the ovular
messages that repeal the genetic injunctions imposed by differentiation could
yield immense benefits to

Dolly is an identical twin of the anonymous animal that donated the nucleus, but
at her birth she was six
years younger than her sister. Therein lies the rub. Dolly is a clone, and
because, imprisoned in her
surrogate womb, Dolly nevertheless had escaped the iron grip of sexual
reproduction, she ignited an
immediate worldwide reaction. Within weeks of the publication of the paper by

Wilmut and his colleagues, politicians in Washington began drawing up 
legislation, and in some European countries and China the cloning of humans was
declared illegal. Well-known ethicists decried the experiment on talk shows  

Dolly reminded several commentators of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, The Boys
from Brazil, which involved a plot to produce clones of Adolf Hitler, or Woody

Allen's Sleeper, in which the cloning of a dictator was attempted from his nose.

Meanwhile, Clonaid, a company based in the Bahamas, was proposing to clone 
for a mere $200,000 a copy.

Through all the uproar and self-righteous posturing, the science that created
Dolly and the potential
benefits of cloning mammals were neglected or seriously misunderstood. Few who
spoke out publicly
recognized the possible practical applications of the technique and how cloning
from an adult nucleus
could advance our understanding of normal and abnormal differentiation, aging,
and cancer. Wilmut's

motivation had nothing to do with cloning humans. He wanted to improve livestock
and make genetically

engineered animal factories that would produce medically useful proteins, such 

clotting factors. Indeed, 10 months after Wilmut's paper was published, Schnieke
et al. (Science 1997;278:2130-3) reported that they had fused enucleated ovine

oocytes with fetal fibroblasts   not with adult cells, as Wilmut had done   that
had been transfected with the gene for factor IX linked to the promoter for the
-lactoglobulin gene for the purpose of producing sheep that would secrete the
scarce human clotting factor in their milk.

The two books under review deal with these fascinating matters in different 

In Clone, Gina Kolata, a well-known science writer for the New York Times, takes
us on a breezy, journalistic tour of cloning. The writing is vivid and clear.
Anyone who reads her book will come away with an appreciation of the main

scientific and ethical issues. She will engage you with the historical 
and sharply etched

portraits of the leading figures in the drama. As a journalist, Kolata has an 

for chitchat and scandal. For example, she gives us an extended account of David

Rorvik's book In His Image: The Cloning of a Man (Philadelphia: J.P. Lippincott,
1978), which was advertised as a true chronicle of the cloning of a

mysterious, unnamed millionaire; the publisher ultimately admitted that it was a
hoax. And she tells in

detail the story of Karl Illmensee, who fooled the scientific community for 
with his claim to have
cloned mice by nuclear transfer. The relevance of these lengthy asides to the
main issues is dubious, but
Clone is worthwhile as an entertaining summary of the biology of the new

In Remaking Eden Lee Silver, a professor in the Department of Molecular Biology
at Princeton University,
gives us a panoramic view of molecular genetics, sexual reproduction, in vitro
fertilization, and cloning. His book is an outstanding achievement. Silver
addresses the uninitiated with clear writing and
straightforward explanations of complex phenomena, but experts, especially
ethicists and policy makers,
will also profit from reading this book. Any physician should find this book
remarkable. Silver analyzes the
issues soberly, often with provocative examples. Some of his cases are
hypothetical; others are drawn
from real life.

A high point of the book is Silver's analysis of the treatment of Anissa Ayala, 
girl with acute myelogenous leukemia who received a bone marrow transplant from
her sister; the sister had been deliberately conceived in the hope that her

marrow would be histocompatible with Anissa's. The new sister's marrow was 

a match, and five years later Anissa, now a hematopoietic chimera, appeared to 
cured. Silver's answer to prominent ethicists who strongly objected to this

procedure is simple: what's wrong with it when the motive is love and affection?
Who had the right to say that Marissa, the new sister, would not be loved for

herself as much as Anissa? Silver's approach to ethical issues related to 

and in vitro fertilization is refreshing: no nonsense, no pontificating, just 

facts, just common sense. He makes his position clear with the question, "Why is
it that so many politicians seem to care so much about cloning but so little
about the welfare of children in general?"

According to legend, 1000 years ago King Canute tried to hold back the tides.
Those who believe that they can limit the progress of science   or any other

branch of human knowledge   will repeat Canute's error. Barbara Tuchman's 
A Distant Mirror (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978) and a recent translation of
Johan Huizinga's magisterial The Autumn of the Middle Ages (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1996) give us an extraordinary picture of the superstition,
ignorance, folly, and pestilence that ruled Western Europe 500 years ago. Five
hundred years later we have arrived at Dolly, and there is no way of turning
back. Instead, the imperative is to use our knowledge with the compassion
advocated by Lee Silver. Gina Kolata is wrong when she emphasizes that by
producing Dolly, Wilmut was "breaking the laws of nature." Nature's laws cannot
be broken. What we must understand is that Wilmut's feat revealed, rather than

broke, the laws of nature. The remarkable potential of this revelation is a 
for hope, not despair.

Robert S. Schwartz, M.D.

                             The New England Journal of Medicine is owned,
published, and copyrighted  
                                       2002 Massachusetts Medical Society. All
rights reserved.

I have not had occasion to read either book yet. I resent these because the Lee
Silver book was mentioned in the "Wired.com" articles I recommended earlier. I
find his following quote to be quite precient and wise.

"We've entered a new age with the ability to control both genes and our
environment, and the fittest species will be the one that presides over its own

I tend to see this as a glass half full prediction although I know others will
see it as quite heavily weighted toward the empty side, too bad for them.

The book, "In His Image: The Cloning of a Man (Philadelphia: J.P. Lippincott,

1978)" by David Rorvik, mentioned in connection with Kolata's book above, is the
book I have said was the one I read in 1990 that started me down the path of
becoming a Transhumanist and self described futurist. I only present the review
of Kolata's book here for balance only since it appears to not be all that
favorable. Far be it from me to be one sided in my opinions. ;)

Cryonics Institute of Michigan Member!
The Immortalist Society Member!
The Society for Venturism Member!

MY WEBSITE: http://www.geocities.com/~davidpascal/swayze/
Signature Memetic Virus--The worst enemy of those who now or will need medical
care is the politician and proselytizing religious bigot who proscribes what
doctors are allowed to prescribe and research, with the consent of their

patients. Those who understand this are strongly encouraged to modify this to 

their personality, and add this to their signature file, and organize to recover

our freedom from Big Brother. For those who wait until they are sick, it will be
too late. Those who suffer from diseases which might have been cured by fetal

tissue research or schedule 1 drugs banned by Big Brother, have the right to 

accountable those who sat on their hands or worse, deferred their responsibility

for personal and humanity's survival to useless gods and pontificating religious
quacks, while they remained ill and dying.

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