J Med Ethics 31:733-735 doi:10.1136/jme.2004.010199
  • Research ethics

Can artificial parthenogenesis sidestep ethical pitfalls in human therapeutic cloning? An historical perspective

  1. H Fangerau
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr H Fangerau
 Institute for the History of Medicine, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf, Universitaetsstrasse 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany; heiner.Fangerau{at}
  • Received 29 July 2004
  • Accepted 16 March 2005
  • Revised 26 December 2004


The aim of regenerative medicine is to reconstruct tissue that has been lost or pathologically altered. Therapeutic cloning seems to offer a method of achieving this aim; however, the ethical debate surrounding human therapeutic cloning is highly controversial. Artificial parthenogenesis—obtaining embryos from unfertilised eggs—seems to offer a way to sidestep these ethical pitfalls. Jacques Loeb (1859–1924), the founding father of artificial parthogenesis, faced negative public opinion when he published his research in 1899. His research, the public’s response to his findings, and his ethical foundations serve as an historical argument both for the communication of science and compromise in biological research.