Since Dolly the first ever mammal to be cloned from an adult cell was successfully cloned, many people and organizations believe that cloning can be used to help deliver many human needs and demands. However, the idea of cloning has caused many concerns and debates over its worthiness. Using the DNA of a single parent the technique of cloning creates identical genetic copies of the single parent.
Biological concept and process
There are many different ways which the application of cloning may be carried out. Cloning involves variety of techniques involved with the selection of donors to actual technique of cloning. The purpose of cloning is to create an organism genetically identical to another. It is truly believed that with alternation and further research of this technique, many present problems such as infertility and lack of human parts for transplantation may be solved.
Somatic Nuclear Transfer
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Somatic cell Nuclear Transfer is one of the two well know methods of cloning. In July 1996, Dolly has been cloned via this method. Somatic cell Nuclear Transfer, SCNT is a process concerning the transfer of the nucleus from a somatic cell to an egg cell. For this process to take place two different cells are required. A somatic cell (any cell other than a reproductive cell) containing a complete genome of that organism and an oocyte (“a cell that is the immediate precursor of a mature egg”) http://www.fda.gov/cvm/CloningRA_ChapterII.htm or unfertilised egg cell collected from the egg donor, a female of the same species. The nucleus of the egg cell must then be extracted as this allows majority of the genetic information to be removed. Then the donor cell is forced into a dominant phase G0 stage in different ways depending on the technique. Via the Roslin technique, the donor cell is starved in a mixture and only enough nutrients is present for the survival of the cells. This will cause the cell to shut down and enter the G0 stage. Then the adult cell is placed in contact with the egg cell and the brief pulse of electric current causes the two cells to fuse together. An embryo develops and the developed embryo is then implanted into the surrogate mother. Via using the Honolulu method cells are not fused. Instead the nucleus of the donor cell is inserted into the enucleated egg cell. After the nucleus is accepted the cell is then placed in a culture. This culture having the same effect as the electric pulse is less strenuous. This jumpstarts cell development and an embryo is formed. The embryo is then implanted into the surrogate mother. The surrogate mother after undergoing 9 months of full pregnancy gives birth to an offspring, exactly identical to the donor.
Developed in 1960s the technique of embryo splitting also referred to as artificial twining is the simplest was yet known of creating a clone. This process allows the natural twinning process to replicate. Firstly the mature unfertilized eggs are collected from the mother. The egg cells are then fertilized with the sperm of the farther. At the beginning stage of development, one of the fertilized eggs will divide into two. At this stage, with enzymes the zona pellucida “a coating that promotes normal cell division” (Allen, R /Grennwood, T. / Shepard, L. 2008, Yr 13, Biology, 2008 Student resource/ activity book Hamilton.) is removed and the two cells are separated.. Once the two cells have separated, in order for the development to proceed, an artificial zona pellucida is added. Forming genetically identical embryos, the cells continue to divide. The embryos are then implanted into surrogate mothers and after full term of pregnancy, the mother is then able to give birth to identical individuals.
DNA Profiling Using PCR
The technique of DNA Profiling using PCR enables a particular gene to be visible indicating its presence. First a DNA sample must be collected from the mammal. If a tissue sample is collected from the mammal, then the DNA must be extracted via being treated with chemicals and enzymes. Then large quantities of the microsatellite and flanking region sequence are produced by specific primers annealing to the flanking region. Both sides of microsatellite are used. Then the fragments under go the process of gel electrophoresis. Gel electrophoresis separates the large molecules depending on their physical property such as size, and electric charge. Because DNA is negatively charged, DNA moves towards the positive terminal. The smaller fragments travel faster while the larges ones find it more difficult to travel fast through the gel. Fragments are able to be read because the fragments are labeled with fluorescent dye. Then powerful computer software is able display the result of the different samples run at the same time.
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In future cloning will be considered as a specialized option for infertile couples, unable to produce sperm or egg. Instead of using the sperm or egg from a donor, cloning will be an alternative option providing infertile couples with children ‘genetically’ related to both parents. “After the claims of Raelians and professor Zavos and Antinori, hundreds of couples are already prepared to pay a large sum of $1 22,000 in order to be cloned.” http://www.hgalert.org/topics/cloning/cloning.PDF This statement proves the possible future use of cloning. Infertile couples are already prepared to pay large sums of money. This may be a more successful solution then the current options being offered. This may not be a highly desired solution but in years to come, this may well be the best solution. However, this is yet not possible as there are laws preventing human from being cloned. This matter is yet to be assessed as it may take time to settle such arguments.
Farmers are currently very interested in the process of cloning mammals. Although it is still very expensive and rare, it has been assured that cloning of farm animals such as sheep and cows will provide farmers with economical stability. Human need and demand for best quality product brings cloning in as a very time efficient solution. For example a cloning of a sheep with high quality wool will mean that exact identical copies of the sheep can be reproduced number of times. This will allow the farmer to produce large amounts of high quality wool, providing the farmer with higher income. This may be applied to many other farm animals such as cows. However, many people are still concerned about food produced by cloned animal; the argument is forever on going. This may be an issue which needs to be addressed seriously. On the other hand, the production of high quality products may also benefit the consumer as prices of products may drop.
Helping third world countries
There are many people dying from starvation caused by lack of food source and in some countries this is caused by the anticipated impacts of climate change. Countries such as Africa can be helped by using the technique of cloning mammals. Mammals such as cows that are able to survive in a particular condition may be cloned, providing food for people of third world countries. This may be a major achievement as this can help so many people suffering from hunger. However the idea of helping the third world countries by cloning has not yet been deeply accessed. Even though, earlier this year the US Food Drug Administration have announced that food from cloned animal is safe to yet, further investigations must be carried out, before this idea can be carried out.
Transgenic animals are known to be very useful in the science field. Animals genetically altered help scientist to research and discover possible solutions such as medicine for curing diseases and problems. However, the reproductions of the transgenic animals are not fast enough, therefore the technique of cloning, allows many genetically identical copies of transgenic animals such as mice to be produced more efficiently. Recently scientists have also been able to genetically engineer farm animals such as sheep to produce particular proteins such as alpha-1 antitrypsin. Alpha-1 antitrypsin attacks the enzyme elastase, which may help relieving symptoms of cystic fibrosis. However, the real difficulty of agriculture and medicine is getting enough animals. Cloning once again solves the problem by enabling exact genetic copies to be created multiple numbers of times.
Cloning is yet very rare, and expensive. How ever, when looked at long term wise, cloning is considered to be an advantage to the farmers. Cloning animals will increase the farmer economical status, allowing farmers to earn more. Cloning may also be the solution to raising prices of products. If high quality products became more frequent and easily available, it may also be an advantage to the consumers as products may become cheaper.
Cloning herds of mammals with the same genetic composition is believed to have the potential to completely wipe out a particular species. Cloning will result in lack of diversity amongst the species which will result in reduction of population. If a disease was to be found, the lack of diversity will cause the species to die because very few or none of the animals will have survived the disease. However, the range of potential environmental impacts of cloning has yet not been thoroughly investigated. The environmental concerns are still unknown and uncertain.
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“Discrimination is now down to a science”. Discrimination may no longer be against race, culture, or religion but in fact the genetic make up and the perfection of your traits. The availability of techniques such as cloning will result in humans striving for higher level of perfection. Even though cloning may bring advantages to the community such as allowing an infertile couple to have children, it also brings up many issues. Cloning of humans will cause overflow of the human population and current issues concerned with overflow of population such as unemployment will rise instantly. Not only will it cause issues as stated above, but sharing DNA will be mean that things such as solving crimes may become more difficult. Individualism will be lost and no longer have any meaning Sense of individualism will be lost within the community.
Many ethical implications of cloning emerge from subjectivity, emotion and position. Although, there are positive applications of cloning such as saving endangered species, cloning for human satisfaction is thought to be generally unacceptable. The idea of cloning humans has been apart of the fiction world for a long time, but the actual reality of cloning have raised huge number of concerns and issues. The thought of human cloning brings up the question of whether cloning is right or wrong? Majority of people see cloning as a threat to the human kind. Many of the different religions are upset with the idea of cloning, as cloning clashes with their beliefs. From a general perspective point of view, tempering with Mother Nature is seen as ‘playing God’. Attempts of asexual reproduction will go against both human biology and human culture. New meaning of family must also be looked at. Cloned babies will have considerable and unknown risks such as premature ageing and many biological, social and psychological consequences. Until cloning becomes normal, the child may not be able to grow up with a normal life. Ideas such as brining back the dead such as a lost child have also emerged. The cloned baby will be a genetic twin of the lost but will never be that particular individual. “The concept that the dead can be reborn through cloning negates the individuality of human beings and the environmental factors that contribute to individuality.” http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcArticles.nsf/pages/Cloning?OpenDocument
As new possibilities of cloning arise, the question of whether cloning is right or wrong is emphasized. As the process of cloning is still being developed no one is able to give an exact answer to whether cloning is right or wrong. In 2005, Biotechnology Australia conducted a survey with the Australian public concerning their attitude towards cloning of mammals and plants. This survey was able to show that the public was generally not very supportive of this technology. As 40.4% of the nation saw cloning animals as a useful technology, around 35.9% thought cloning was acceptable and cloning was considered risky by over two thirds 67.4%of the country. In May 2007 NZFSA (New Zealand Food Safety Authority) expressed their opinion on food from cloned animals. They stated “So far NZFSA has found no safety reasons to reject food from cloned animals” http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/publications/food-focus/2007-05/page-12.htm. After five years of study it has been announced earlier this year by the US Food Drug Administration has announced that food from cloned animals is safe to eat. However, despite the advantages such as the example above, a particular not many people are keen on food produced from cloned animals. The very low success rate of cloning; it raises major issues and concerns for many people. With such low success rate of cloning, many people are concerned about animal welfare. Organizations such as aavs America anti vivisection society and End animal cloning are strongly against animal cloning as they are highly concerned about the welfare of the animals. It is known that cloning animals is not successful most of the time. However, it is not just the animals who may suffer. Cloning human beings is the next project of the science world. Cloning in long term may lead to disappearance of diversity amongst mammals which will affect factors such as adaption and survival of species. My opinion against cloning has grown even stronger. Despite discovering the advantages of cloning, I now realize the amount of failures before succeeding to create a single clone. The advantages of cloning are not convincing enough to have convinced me and therefore, my opinion against cloning stays the same.
Evaluation of Resources
Information was collected from variety of resources ranging from online journals, encyclopedia and variety of websites. However, despite variety of sources being available it was extremely difficult at times as things were not explained in depth enough. Many websites had very similar information, so the reading got a bit repetitive, however this gave me a chance to compare and contrast the ideas. As cloning is still a very recent discovery, most of the information was valid and up to date. The information of implications such as environmental implication was very difficult to find as not enough information was given. During this project, I was able to see some positive sides of cloning. This has made me think twice of the possibilities of the future. Most of the websites talked about the positive sides to cloning. However the advantages of cloning were not quite enough to convince me that cloning should be used. I have learnt a lot about cloning, and believe that cloning may make a huge different to the future.
6. http://library.thinkquest.org/24355/data/details/media/honoluluanim.html (animation)
13. Allen, R./Greenwood, T./Shepard, L. 2008, Yr 13 Biology 2008 student resource /activity book Hamilton.