The possibility of human cloning rose when Scottish scientists at Roslin Institute created the much-celebrated sheep “Dolly”, this thrill the worldwide interest and concern because of its scientific and ethical implications. Dolly, a Finn-Dorset ewe, was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. She was cloned at the Roslin Institute in Scotland and lived there from her birth in 1996 until her death in 2003 when she was six. Her stuffed remains were placed at Edinburgh’s Royal Museum, part of the National Museums of Scotland. Researchers have also cloned other animals such as goats, cows, mice, pigs, cats, rabbits, and a gaur.
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What is Cloning?
Cloning is the process of creating a copy of something. In genetics, cloning refers to the process of making an identical copy of the DNA of an organism. Human cloning is an organism that involves in replicating the DNA of that organism in a new organism that, as a result, has the same exact features and characteristics. Human Cloning would mean recreating the person that is being cloned.
And animal cloning is the process by which an entire organism is reproduced from a single cell taken from the parent organism and in a genetically identical manner. This means the cloned animal is an exact duplicate in every way of its parent; it has the same exact DNA.
There are three different types of cloning and they are Recombinant DNA technology or DNA cloning, Reproductive cloning, and Therapeutic cloning.
Recombinant DNA technology also known as molecular cloning, and gene cloning – refers to the process of creating multiple copies of an isolated DNA fragment or fragments by in vitro or in vivo methods. It is possible to clone entire gene fragments, random portions of DNA fragments or specific DNA sequences. It is also defined as the transfer of a DNA fragment of interest from one organism to a self-replicating genetic element such as a bacterial plasmid. The DNA of interest can then be reproducing a foreign host cell. This technology has been around since the 1970s, and it has become a common practice in molecular biology labs today.
Reproductive cloning is a type of cloning which is performed for the purpose of creating a duplicate copy of another organism. It is accomplished using a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. When Scottish researchers announced that they had successfully cloned the first mammal, a sheep (Dolly). A number of other mammals have been cloned since then, and cloning has become a quarrelsome ethical.
In somatic cell nuclear transfer, scientists extract the nucleus of a somatic cell, a cell which come from anywhere in the body, and insert it into an egg which has had its nucleus removed. The egg is stimulated, and it begins dividing and growing, developing into an embryo which can be implanted into a gestational surrogate and carried to term. There are some issues have developed with reproductive cloning from a scientific perspective. Clones appear to have shorter lifespan, leading to concerns about the disadvantages of reproductive cloning.
Therapeutic cloning is also called “embryo cloning, it is a cloning which is performed for the purpose of medical treatment. For example, it could theoretically be used to grow a replacement organ, to generate skin for a burn victim, or to create nerve cells for someone suffering from brain damage or a neurological condition. Therapeutic cloning is similar to reproductive cloning, in which a copy of an organism is produced, but the two have very different end goals.
Formally, this type of cloning is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. It involves extracting the nucleus of a cell, and putting the nucleus into an egg which has been denucleated. Then, the egg is allowed to divide and grow. In therapeutic cloning, the growing egg is used as a source of stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells which can grow into a wide variety of different types of cells. But in reproductive cloning, the egg is allowed to grow into a baby.
The advantage of therapeutic cloning in medical treatment is that it would allow doctors to grow replacements for missing and damaged body parts for their patients. This would eliminate organ and tissue shortages, making sure that every patient who required something like a new liver or new kidneys could get what he or she needed. Using cloned body parts would also eliminate the need for immunosuppressive, and reduce the risk of rejection and other problems which are commonly associated with transplants.
How can cloning technologies used?
Recombinant DNA technology is important for learning about other related technologies, such as gene therapy, genetic engineering of organisms, and sequencing genomes. Gene therapy can be used to treat certain genetic conditions by introducing virus vectors that carry corrected copies of faulty genes into the cells of a host organism. Genes from different organisms that improve taste and nutritional value or provide resistance to particular types of disease can be used to genetically engineer food crops. With genome sequencing, fragments of chromosomal DNA must be inserted into different cloning vectors to generate fragments of an appropriate size for sequencing.
Reproductive cloning also could be used to repopulate endangered animals or animals that are difficult to breed. In 2001, the first clone of an endangered wild animal was born, a wild ox called a gaur. The young gaur died from an infection about 48 hours after its birth. In 2001, scientists in Italy reported the successful cloning of a healthy baby mouflon, an endangered wild sheep. The cloned mouflon is living at a wildlife centre in Sardinia. Other endangered species that are potential candidates for cloning include the African bongo antelope, the Sumatran tiger, and the giant panda. Cloning extinct animals gives a much greater challenge to scientists because the egg and the surrogate needed to create the cloned embryo would be of a species different from the clone.
What are the risks of cloning?
Reproductive cloning is expensive and highly inefficient. More than 90% of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. More than 100 nuclear transfer procedures could be required to produce one living clone. In addition to low success rates, cloned animals tend to have more composed immune function and higher rates of infection, tumour growth, and other disorders.
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Japanese studies have shown that cloned mice live in poor health and die early. About a third of the cloned calves born alive have died young, and many of them were abnormally large. Many cloned animals have not lived long enough to generate good data about how clones age. Appearing healthy at a young age unfortunately is not a good indicator of long-term survival. Clones have been known to die mysteriously. For example, Australia’s first cloned sheep appeared healthy and energetic on the day she died, and the results from her autopsy failed to determine a cause of death.
Positive effects of cloning
If the vital organs of the human body can be cloned, it can be provided as a backup system for human beings. Cloning body parts can serve as a lifesaver. When a body organ such as a kidney or heart fails to function, there is a possibility to replace it with the cloned body organ.
Cloning in human beings can prove to be a solution to infertility. Cloning has the potential can be of assistance as an option for producing children. Cloning may make it possible to reproduce a certain trait in human beings. It will be able to produce people with certain qualities, human beings with particular desirable traits, hence making human beings a man-made being.
Cloning technologies can be very helpful for the researchers in genetics. They might be able to understand the structure or arrangement of genes and the effects of genetic components on human traits. They will be able to alter genetic components in cloned human beings, thus simplifying their analysis of genes. Cloning may also help us combat a wide range of genetic diseases.
Cloning can make it possible for us to obtain customised organisms and apply them for health benefits of society. Cloning can provide as the best means to replicate animals that can be used for research purposes. Cloning can also allow the genetic alteration of plants and animals.
Negative effects of cloning
The negative effects of human cloning contravene nature, because it is not via the natural reproductive process, which is by a man and a woman. Human cloning is creating life. It is also inhuman because a clone makes no differences as us. A clone must eat, drink and carry out any other metabolic processes in order to survive. The clone may even be better than his original host. It would be inhumane to treat them as ‘special species’ so if human is cloned it will make us to be a property which can be sold to anybody else. In other words, selling humans is unethical, inhumane and immoral.
While cloning allows man to tamper with genetics in human beings, it also makes deliberate reproduction of undesirable traits, a probability. Cloning of body organs might invite violation in society.
In cloning human organs and using them for transplant, or in cloning human beings themselves, technical and economic barriers will have to be considered. Cloned organs will be cost-effective, such as equipment/materials used to make the cloned organs.
Further more cloning will put human and animal rights at stake. Some people feel that reproductive cloning is unnatural and that it could potentially violate their religious beliefs.
Human cloning would not be good idea because the reproductive cloning is not yet a fool-proof method. It took 272 attempts before Dolly the sheep was produced. This means 272 embryos either failed to develop properly or were discarded as defective. Also in other cases there were a large percentage of the animals born showed a high degree of abnormality and died quickly or had to be euthanized. And those that have successfully cloned have showed many health problems and none have lived to a ripe old age so far. And also there is no way of predicting what the intelligence level and capabilities of a human clone would be. What would be the psychological and societal implications for it as an individual? What kind of a life or future would it have? Since we don’t know, many people consider it unethical to go ahead and clone.
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