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After Dolly: The Uses and Misuses of Human Cloning [Paperback]

Professor Ian Wilmut , Roger Highfield
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

6 July 2006
This book provides a timely and important discussion of the potential value of cloning and of the ethical choices that this radical new technology has raised, including the issues surrounding the current status of stem-cell research. As leader of the team that produced Dolly, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell, Ian Wilmut has played a unique role both in the science of cloning and the ensuing international debate about its implications. He has testified before parliamentary and congressional committees in the UK, France and the US and given many public lectures on the subject, in addition to participating in numerous panel discussions on the uses of cloning. AFTER DOLLY: THE USES AND MISUSES OF HUMAN CLONING distils the essence of the current scientific and social policy discussions around these critically important issues and presents them in an understandable manner so the educated reader can have an informed opinion.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316724696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316724692
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Chock-full of good science writing that provides an up-to-the-minute account of where we stand (THE TIMES)

Pacy and extremely clear. The scientific jargon is properly explained, and there is an excellent glossary (SCOTSMAN)

I so enjoyed this elegantly written inside story (NEW SCIENTIST)

[Wilmut] is acutely aware of the controversies of his work and this is his attempt at communicating his side of things to the public - a responsible step to take and an enjoyable read into the bargain (MORNING STAR)

Book Description

The definitive book on cloning and the stem-cell controversy by Ian Wilmut, the leader of the team that produced Dolly the sheep

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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read! 22 Sep 2013
By kclam
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Vividly written together with a number of color photos, this book presents a first hand account by the cloner of the events leading up to the creation and birth of Dolly the sheep. In addition, it also covers gene therapy, stem cell therapy and transgenic animals as well as addressing their issues.

Ian Wilmut argues that blastocyst (the early embryo a week or so after fertilization) is not a person because it has no mental life. He strongly opposes human cloning, but supports the use of gene therapy to correct the damaged genes responsible for a disease. With stem cell therapy, doctors will use cloning to grow a patient's own cells and tissues for carrying out repairs. Use of cells from these embryos can speed up and reduce dependence on animals for medicine research. On the other hand, the transgenic animals have their genetic make-up altered. They are converted into living drug factories to make human proteins for treating diseases!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Cloning - Not The Issue 4 Nov 2006
By The Spinozanator - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ian Wilmut - with the help of science journalist Roger Highfield - tells the exciting story of how he and his group cloned Dolly, whose donor cell came from the udder of an adult sheep. Much of the book describes the science surrounding the multistage procedures of cloning. The challenges are enormous because of the immense complexity of the reproductive process and for technical reasons. The nuclear transfers themselves were done under a microscope on cells much smaller than the dot at the end of this sentence.

Cloning has been successful in many species of mammals but according to Wilmut, attempts to clone humans are not ethical, feasible, or even desirable. The success rate is extremely low, abnormalities of pregnancy are the norm, the newborn mammals that survive are frequently not entirely normal, and identical genotypes ignore the environmental factors that influence individuality. This can be tolerated in cattle, but certainly not in humans. Using stem cells to cure disease is an entirely different story. Scientists are learning how to manipulate these cells to become replacements for diseased tissue in humans.

In 50 years, scientists may be using stem cells to cure Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, heart disease, and perhaps scores of other diseases. They might learn how to grow customized organs in the lab, rendering transplant waiting lists and immune suppressive therapy unnecessary. In 10 years, they should have somewhat of a handle on a few of these diseases and stem cell treatments or cures for a couple of them. Unfortunately, this valuable research has been slowed by political and ethical controversy.

Wilmut takes a respectful and humble view of these valid ethical issues and the religious objections surrounding experimentation on a human embryo. His bottom line, however, is that the real immoral act would be to withhold definitive treatment of disease from that group of us who are already born.

"After Dolly" is written for a wide variety of readers, requiring knowledge of high school biology and a little genetics. Wilmut modestly gives away virtually all the credit to his team and other researchers, while thoroughly examining the science and history of this dynamic field. Amid the hysteria and media frenzy surrounding Dolly's birth and life, and the tons of newsprint generated about the possibility of cloning humans, Wilmut was perplexed by the lack of details written about how and why they cloned her. He is now excited to finally tell this story.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 6 July 2006
By Dr. Lee D. Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ten years ago today, on July 5, 1996, the famous sheep called Dolly was born. There were no press announcements, for her "creators" had yet to submit the paper on the experimental methods and results to a professional scientific journal. It was not until February of the following year that most of press and the world got to hear of this extraordinary accomplishment with mammalian cloning. There is probably no single scientific experiment that has caused such controversy as this one, with most of this controversy coming from a misguided and publicity seeking press.

The authors present in this book an overview of the experiment from standpoint of Ian Wilmut, as one who was directly involved in bringing about the birth of Dolly. Written with the assistance of a professional writer, Wilmut gives the reader a fascinating look into the science behind Dolly, and also make commentary on the biological and genetic science that came after her birth. All of these developments are very exciting, and are ample proof that we are living in extraordinary times. Genetic engineering is a fascinating technology, and hopefully it will continue to play a large role in optimizing the health of all organisms, human and otherwise.

As expected from his public discussion, Wilmut is against reproductive cloning. However, his warnings against its practice he backs up with scientific argument, detailing the many problems that arise in attempts to clone mammals. The authors do touch on the ethical arguments against human cloning, but their arguments on this account are faulty, and have been successfully countered by other individuals, and will not be repeated here.

Wilmut comes across in the book as being a very practical, patient, and humble man, and one who is definitely fed up with the public outcries and misrepresentations of biological science in today's newspapers and magazines. The reader is left with the impression that Wilmut felt honored to be involved in the Dolly experiment, and even might have been slightly surprised at its success, comparing for instance his laboratories with other more equipped laboratories across the ocean.

Cloning from adults at the time was "proved" to be "impossible" by some molecular biologists of the time, as the authors point out. One can only imagine then the excitement when Wilmut and his team verified through ultrasound that the Dolly fetus was healthy. And their determination to proceed with the experiment, in spite of the "impossibility" proofs, is another strong argument for ignoring the opinions of experts when doing scientific research. Frequently the experts are correct, but their words are not sacrosanct, as laboratory experimentation in this case proved all too well. One hates to think of the research that has not been done because of discouragement from "experts."

Since the book is about genetic engineering as it progressed after the birth of Dolly, one expects to find discussion on transgenesis and pharming, and this is indeed the case. The authors give an encapsulated but effective overview of the developments in genetic engineering primarily from the viewpoint on how they will affect human health.

The authors are optimistic about the future of genetic engineering, but are hesitant to engage in utopianism. They want to leave the impression that genetic engineering will have a minimal impact as compared with what has been done via natural evolution. But as the technologies of genetic engineering become more perfected, and as mammalian cloning becomes better understood, it is fair to say that genetic engineering will have a major impact in the twenty-first century. If it enhances human intelligence and health, if it makes couples happy with children born through human cloning, if it creates thousands of new transgenic animals and plants, in short if it radically changes the biosphere as we know it in a way that makes life on Earth more harmonious, then Wilmut and his team, along with all the other genetic engineers, deserve not only our utmost respect and praise, but also our envy: for taking the first steps into a fascinating new frontier.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The View of Cloning, from a Cloner 6 Sep 2006
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The most famous sheep in the world, and the most famous lab animal, was Dolly, born in 1996. She was the first mammal cloned from an adult differentiated cell, but she was not at all the first clone. Ian Wilmut was a scientist within the Scottish research team that cloned her, and ten years on he has written a useful book, with science author Roger Highfield, _After Dolly: The Uses and Misuses of Human Cloning_ (Norton) which not only gives the history of producing Dolly, and Dolly's life story, but also describes the developments in cloning since then. Wilmut has necessarily become an advisor on the ethics of cloning and embryo research, and while there will be many who disagree with his utilitarian views set down in his book, they do represent a thoughtful scientific opinion of where cloning and embryo procedures ought and ought not to be used.

Wilmut makes clear that Dolly was not the first clone, but the first mammalian clone produced from DNA derived from a differentiated adult cell; he gives a history of pre-Dolly cloning. While the ideas behind cloning are simple, carrying out the procedure is extremely difficult, requiring precise manipulation of unimaginably small cell parts. The manipulation machine, for instance, by which a technician looks into a microscope and carefully removes or replaces cell nuclei, sat on a desk that sat on a heavy metal plate that in turn sat on squash balls to absorb any vibrations from a door slamming or even a radio playing. Wilmut favors human embryo research because of its potential outcomes. The earliest embryo (even sometimes called a pre-embryo) is a blastocyst, a microscopic ball of around a hundred cells in a hollow sphere. There is not enough differentiation within the blastocyst into even primitive nerves, and so we may definitely say that the blastocyst has no awareness and no capacity to feel pain. Wilmut for this, and many other reasons given here, feels that there is no possibility of cruelty to a blastocyst, and that they can be subjected to experiment. He does feel that embryos deserve elemental respect; they should be used in research when there is no other means of doing the research, and any embryo thus used should be used with the consent of the adults whose DNA was joined to make it.

Wilmut is firmly against what he sees as the folly of cloning humans, and that the production of "designer babies" even if feasible (they are not even close) ought to be rejected. Again, this is a judgement based on practicality: he asks us to imagine rich parents who hire a staff to engineer an intellectually gifted child, only to wind up eventually with "a sullen adolescent who smokes marijuana and doesn't talk to them." Also he points out that cloning has huge risks and costs in making a clone; for Dolly, for instance, 277 donor udder cells were transformed into only 29 embryos, only one of which prospered in the surrogate mother. And no one really knows how good a clone Dolly was; she had a good life and seemed to enjoy being sociable due to her fame, but she lived less than eight years, not a good outcome for a pampered sheep. Dolly was a remarkable experiment that helped us better understand the biochemical mechanics of reproduction; Wilmut is strongly against any such experimentation on humans. His book gives up-to-date reporting on where scientists are and are heading, including the catastrophic mistakes by the once admired, now disgraced Woo Suk Hwang of Korea. Wilmut's passionate arguments about using the current technologies sensibly and ethically to benefit future generations ought to help in understanding the ethics of the most controversial area in biology.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dolly's Cloner gives an interesting and informative inside story. 16 April 2012
By Barbara MacKinnon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very valuable book, of reasonable length and interesting reading. Since one of the two authors, Ian Wilmut, is the scientist who produced the cloned sheep, Dolly, in 1996, near Edinburgh Scotland, it gives the inside story of that birth. It also describes what led up to it as well as the process itself. It also tells of Dolly's life span. Additionally it details other recent examples of the cloning of animals, including so-called "pharming," the producing of better farm animals and animals that can provide sources of treatments for some human diseases. It also describes at least one very public fraudulent claim to have produced a human being through cloning. In fact Ian Wilmut himself opposes doing this at present, chiefly because of the risks involved. Overall well worth reading for those new to the field as well as others.

Barbara MacKinnon
Retired Professor of Philosophy, University of San Francisco
5.0 out of 5 stars A pick for both general-interest collections and any who would understand the nature of human cloning issues today 17 Aug 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ten years ago author Ian Wilmut shocked science and the general public when he revealed his team of researchers had cloned the first sheep from an adult cell. His revelation was to spark a controversy not just in science, but among consumers and the general public. AFTER DOLLY: THE USES AND MISUSES OF HUMAN CLONING continues the discussion, surveying the current state of the field of cloning, discussing the science behind Dolly's creation and its refinement since, and posing a strong statement on the moral necessity of cloning to cure disease. A pick for both general-interest collections and any who would understand the nature of human cloning issues today.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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