In 2004, I met Dr. Hwang Woo Suk of South Korea following the announcement that his team had cloned human stem cells.
At the time I didn’t realize I was in the presence of a true pioneer. I thought he was another scientist celebrating a lucky break. Boy, was I wrong.
One year later, these stem-cell superstars managed to tailor stem cells to individual patients.
By the end of the year, Hwang hopes to open a world stem cell bank in Korea to speed up his pursuit of growing replacement tissue to treat diseases. This bank will consolidate current stem cell lines in one research location.
To treat a patient, researchers would look for a cell line that provides a close match to a patient’s immune system, resembling the process now used in finding donors for organ transplants.
And that’s not all, in their spare time they’ve successfully cloned a dog.
So while federal funds are restricted and research is limited here in the United States, researchers in South Korea are finding cures for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Now most people question the ethics of cloning and stem cell experiments. They ponder whether humans ought to play God and toy with the gift of life. They worry that science will run amuck and the world will be populated by replicas and unholy carbon copies.
Like Pope John Paul II’s condemnation of in vitro fertilization.
Here’s my question – how long will the US remain a “superpower” without the technological prowess we’ve enjoyed in the past?