A statement by the campaign group Equal Rights for Skin Cells
Scientists have for the first time successfully cloned a mouse from skin cells reprogrammed to an embryo-like state. In a paper published online in Nature this week, Chinese scientists described a procedure in which adult mouse skin cells were genetically manipulated to turn them into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. These iPS cells were then injected into a tetraploid embryo – created by fusing two embryonic mouse cells but only capable of forming placental tissue. In this environment, the iPS cells developed into a fully-fledged embryo, which was implanted into a surrogate mother. Twenty days later, the mother gave birth to a mouse that was genetically identical to the mouse from which the skin cells were taken.
This study has shown for the first time that stem cells derived from skin cells can be used to create a living creature. It surely follows that skin cells are equal in status to embryos – both can give rise to life. Just as an embryo is a human being who has not yet been born, a skin cell is a human being who has not yet been reprogrammed, injected into a tetraploid embryo, implanted into a surrogate mother and born.
Equal Rights for Skin Cells (ERSC) has been set up by those of us who believe that skin cells deserve to be recognised as human beings, just like embryos. We affirm that the government must protect the basic rights of skin cells, for each one of them could be made into a person if only a scientist took the trouble. Billions of skin cells are lost from every person every day. This means that quadrillions of potential human beings are dying every day, and the government doesn’t seem to care. Join us in our fight to put an end to this senseless loss of life.