Cloning to conquer disease urged

HYDERABAD Jan. 28. Nobel laureate, R. Timothy Hunt, on Tuesday expressed scepticism over human cloning, quipping, "it is better to clone a race horse that earns you money."

He dismissed as "real science fiction" the initial claims that a genius like Albert Einstein could be created.

But at the same time, he felt cloning techniques can be used to conquer diseases. "It would be great if we are able to get rid of mental illness and see that human beings are cleverer''.

He was addressing a press conference after delivering a special lecture, "Controlling the events of the Cell Cycle'', organised by the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), as part of its sixth foundation day.

Working on sea urchin eggs, he made the revolutionary discovery of a class of proteins called cyclins that are involved in the regulation of cell division, a pioneering effort for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2001.

Prof. Hunt, suggested developing a simple technique for early detection of cancer. "I would like to see a simple blood test with the help of a marker, telling us it is cancer. It is really a dream but I think it is in the realm of possibility''.

Fielding questions on cancer research, he said "yes, cell division is triggered by enzyme but the question is can we can stop it and what will happen if we block the entire cell division process. You cannot. It is a challenging piece of research."

V. S. Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science and technology, delivered a lecture on "Facilitating technology development in a fast changing area''. Syed E. Hasnain, Director of the CDFD presented the annual report.

Balasubramanian, former Director of the CCMB, introduced the speakers. J. Gowrishankar, senior scientist, CDFD proposed a vote of thanks.

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