VALENCIA. We had not witnessed a similar media hype since Dolly's birth -the first mammal cloned from and adult cell in 1997. A North American research team has obtained embryonic stem cells using a nuclear transference technique -the one used with Dolly- and this news has stirred old fears regarding the possibility of human cloning.
The thing is that the article published the last 15th of May by the prestigious journal Cell and written by a research group form the University of Oregon avoids mentioning the word cloning. One should only pay attention to the title chosen for the article «Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer». In spite of the authors' intention of shunning the possible implications of this success meant for future and hypothetical human cloning, the debate was reopened.
On that same day, mass media from all over the world spread the news. The following day, the possibility of future human cloning made front-page news in Spanish newspapers. Thus, El País (16/5/2013) featured: «Closer to human cloning. Scientists from Oregon make stem cells using Dolly cloning technique». El Mundo's headline (16/5/2013) was: «Replication of stem cells opens the door to human cloning».
ABC featured: «First cloning of human embryonic cells»; and added this subheading: «The head of the research team of the University of Oregon denies their goal is cloning people». Their front page also emphasised their editorial: «Science and Ethics have to be compatible». Therefore, the newspaper wanted to clearly define their position regarding this issue. La Razón (16/5/2013) published a more subjective headline: «Human cloning's leap in the dark». The subheading was also very revealing: «Embryonic stem cells from an adult cloned. Scientists warn the experiment is neither effective nor moral».
La Vanguardia and El Periódico were more focused on the therapeutic possibilities of the research. About this, La Vanguardia (16/5/2013) said «Historical progress in cloning with therapeutic aims». And the newspaper El Periódico (16/5/2013): «Cloning of human cells. A team from Oregon opens the door to the possibility of self-transplants».
Position for debate
In the following days, most of the newspapers fixed their attitudes -as they should in this cases of scoial debate- through their editorials.
El País showed optimism with these news. In their editorial «Therapeutic cloning» (17/5/2013) they were convinced that: «The success of this technique in humans means a huge advance in regenerative medicine». In fact, they highlighted the role that this technique could play in repairing and transplating tissues: «It opens a new possibility for the creation of organs for transplants or the reparation of damaged tissues, since, having the exact same genes the patient has, those tissues would not be rejected».
Full text available at Mètode's website.
Lucía Sapiña. The Two Cultures Observatory
Foto: OHSU Photos