The new advancements in Cloning and the Ethical debate surrounding it

1. Introduction

Cloning is the generation of cells, tissues, organs, organ systems or totally independent organisms from DNA. This article will discuss the latest developments, benefits and ethical and views as regards to cloning.

2. Types of cloning

There are three types of cloning. Molecular cloning involves use of DNA segments in areas of interest to produce specific products of DNA transcription and this has proven useful in recombinant DNA to produce many therapies like insulin, tissue plasminogen activator and erythropoietin.

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Cellular cloning involves use of somatic cells to produce a cell line identical to the original cell, and this can be used to produce therapies like those of molecular cloning. Blastomere separation is advanced in that reproductive cells are used to produce independent organisms (Anon, n.d.).

3. Experiments done so far

Many advances have been made in cloning so with more animals being cloned. The Rhesus monkey was cloned in 2000 January by embryo splitting and it was known as Tetra. In 2001, an endangered species was cloned called Gaur. Alpha and Beta are the cattle that were cloned in 2001 and 2005 respectively and they were males. The CopyCat was the female cat to be cloned in 2001. In 2004, Little Nicky was the first cat to be cloned for commercial purposes.

The first dog to be cloned was Snuppy in 2005. A rat that was first cloned in 2003 and it was named Ralph. Idaho Gem is the name of the first mule to be cloned in 2003. In May 2003, the first horse was cloned named Prometea. The first water buffalo to be cloned was named Ssmrupa in 2009 February but it died after five days because it was infected. The same year, Injaz became the first camel to be cloned(Arnold, 2009).

4. Views on cloning today

Attempts to clone human cells face many ethical, religious and legal challenges today. Another major challenge is the difficulty in cloning human cells. Never the less, research is going on in various institutions to improve the methods and thus the outcome of cloning since it’s potentially useful in treatment of many medical conditions.

5. The breakthroughs of cloning

5.1 Treatment of leukemia

Normal bone marrow precursors are cloned and placed in the bone marrow cavity of the leukemic patient.

5.2 Treatment of eye disorders

Patients with cataracts can be potentially cured by cloning the lenses and replacing them with those with cataracts.

5.3 Treatment in heart attack patients

In patients with acute or chronic myocardial infarction, cells can be cloned and then be placed in the ischemic areas.

5.4 New Vaccines

Vaccines can be made by developing cancerous cells which can not replicate and injecting them to subjects. This can potentially generate memory in the immunity so that on second exposure, these cells are destroyed by the immune system. Another way of using cloning in vaccination is by using DNA recombinant technology where microbial DNA is used to produces toxins, which are detoxified, while retaining their immunogenicity, and introducing them in a subject, who will eliminate the microbes on second exposure.

5.5 Treatment of Parkinsonism

This has been tried in mice where dopamine producing cells are cloned and then injected into mice with Parkinsonism. Behavioral symptoms of the disease improved in the mice because the missing dopamine was produced by these cells. There is hope that this is possible with humans (Randerson, 2008).

6. Life saving strategies

Cloning has been supported by many scientists because of these potential benefits. Other major areas of application in cloning are as follows.

6.1 Organ transplantation

Parts of an individual can be cloned to produce large tissues which can be transplanted to another part of the same individual. This has an advantage over transplantation from another individual which leads to graft rejection.

6.2 Infertile individuals, cancer and plastic surgery

Cloning processes involve switching on and off of cells, a principle which can be exploited in switching of cancerous cells. Through cloning, a vaccine of cancer may be made as previously noted. Infertile people can father by either using their reproductive cells or cloning their somatic cells and introducing them to a surrogate. Plastic surgery done using cloning has a great benefit as compared to other methods because features of the patient can be retained with no fear of graft rejection.

7. Other applications

Cloning can be used to test for genetic diseases. Nerves can be grown to enable high quality medication. Cloning can be used to grow nerves which can be replaced in individuals with spinal cord injury. Liver failure and renal failure can be cured by cloning by replacing the diseased cells. Tay Sachs disease can be prevented by eliminating genes carrying the disorder. Breast implants and soft tissue replacement can be done using cloned tissues from the same individual to eliminate changes of host verses graft disease.

Skin can be produced for use as skin flaps in patients with severe burns; lung tissue can be cloned as well. Diseases which seemed to have no cure like Alzheimer’s disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Heart failure arthritis and other degenerative diseases can be approached in this manner (Smith, 2002).

8. Criticisms

8.1 Reasons for opposition to cloning

According to ethical and religious groups, the drawbacks on cloning are many. On average, there is only 1-10% viability of all offspring that were cloned from embryos. It has been shown that cloned animals have a higher risk of cancer, infections, mental and physical difficulties.

The animals that have been cloned have been seen to die unexpectedly, unpredictably and for unknown reasons. Human cloning is specifically opposed because it is believed that a growing human also needs emotional and intellectual development, which can not be provided by cloning.

Genetics Fact Sheet 1 indicates that a person is a product of his or her genetic make up and the environment such that a person cloned from another is not a duplicate. Social relations, responsibility and parenthood of the cloned human are difficult to achieve, which pose a challenge to cloning (Barlow&Saleh, 2007).

8.2 Ethical groups

There was a worldwide condemnation of attempts to clone a human being in 2003 when Clonaid biotechnology group claimed to have cloned a baby who they named Eve. They were opposed mainly because of the reasons above. There are many policies which have been laid to regulate cloning especially in the utilization of the embryos (Barlow&Saleh, 2007).

9. Conclusion

9.1 My personal view and opinion

Cloning has various pros and cons, whereas it can be a life saving process, it may also have many deleterious effects on the human race. Biologists and doctors should not rush into cloning humans. There is need to carry more experiments with care and the results analyzed to perfect the science and eliminate the disadvantages of cloning and then educate the lay world on the benefits of cloning.

9.2 Recap

Cloning is the generation of body tissues from DNA. This procedure has many potential applications in various sectors of health. In spite of that, it has been opposed by many ethical groups because of the risks involved and others because of myths and traditional beliefs. With care and effort, these properties can be exploited to develop vaccines, treat various diseases, help in surgery, and even stop the aging process.

9.3 Research experiments should be furthered

The only way to eliminate most of the risks associated with cloning is through furthering the experiments in different species and comparing the results. Biologists should come up with effective machines which do not affect the genetic composition in the embryo as this would reduce the disabilities and mutations seen in cloned animals.

Through cloning, many vaccines can be developed which would not otherwise be available. More experiments should be done to develop more vaccines to various diseases. More experiments should be done in order to find treatment of endocrine system diseases as has been seen in diabetes mellitus with insulin. Auto grafts do not induce immunogenicity in an individual.

More experiments should be done to exploit this fact by cloning cells to form tissues or even organs from the same patient and then surgically introducing them to the area of defect. Cloning experiments should be furthered to discover other benefits of cloning which are not yet known.

10. References

Anon.(n.d.).The Science and Application of Cloning. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://bioethics.georgetown.edu/nbac/pubs/cloning1/chapter2.pdf

Arnold, P. (2009). What Animals have been Cloned. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/26487.aspx

Barlow, K. & Saleh, M. (2007). Cloning and Stem Cells. Retrieved on April 10, 2011 from http://www.genetics.com.au/pdf/factsheets/fs26.pdf

Randerson, J. (2008). Therapeutic cloning offers hope of treatment of Parkinson’s. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/mar/24/neuroscience.genetics

Smith, S. (2002). The Benefits of Human Cloning. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://www.humancloning.org/benefits.php

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