This years Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been presented to two very brilliant researchers “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”
There is absolutely no question that both Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka are two of the brightest minds that humanity has produces and that the discoveries that they have made are of a colossal nature.
What it does do, however is to pose some really interesting new dilemmas, as is often the case, on humanity, medicine, research and of course what alchemists would call “The Philosopher’s stone”
Scientists live in a world of their own and it can be very hard to penetrate this universe without spending a large amount of time reading very detailed documents in huge volumes.
So to make it very simple I would like you to consider a trial that was successfully performed by Japanese scientists using the Gurdon-Yamanaka technique just last week.
Growing a rat from a skin-cell
1. Take a skin cell from a Rat
2. Re-engineer it to behave like a stem-cell (Wikipedia link)
3. Grow Rat eggs in laboratory from stem-cells
4. Hatch rats
Now it is not the case that because it works with rats it also works with humans. The Rat physiology is very simple compared to the human one which means that there are many hurdles on the way. However, it is usually a good indication that it could work.
So that leaves us in a world were cloning is now very much looking like the reality of our future. In fact you do not even need a stem cell since you can just re-program any cell that you pick off the human body.
The fact that this practice has been promoted by the Nobel Committee has meaning in itself. There are numerous discussions on the ethics around this issue which have never been solved and it is nowhere near clear cut.
As a topic is has the explosiveness of the Hydrogen Bomb and perhaps also an equal impact on the future of humanity. I am guessing that both winners will need an increased security detail while travelling in certain parts of the world but that is only the tip of the ice-berg.
The question the immediately comes to my mind is what happens to the idea of “individuality and society” if a majority of man becomes cloned. Other topics might be “the collective conciousness” or “humanity re-defined” and I will be addressing these as the situation keeps developing.
For the moment I would like to end by saying that:
“Perhaps the creativity of pluripotency will bring un-harness humanity from under the yoke of destruction Einstein imposed on it with the development of the Hydrogen bomb.