On July 5, 1996, the most renowned sheep in history was born, which also marked a breakthrough in scientific technology. Ian Wilmut and a group of Scottish scientists announced that they had successfully cloned a sheep named Dolly. Though the newly cloned sheep served as a significant scientific breakthrough, it also caused major controversy over the future and evolution of cloning (Bonsor and Conger). Since 1996, the science behind cloning has advanced, but cloning still creates religious and ethical disputes. Some say that cloning is against God’s plan for humanity and also abuses the laws of nature (Jackson), but cloning also has many profound medical benefits.

Cloning Procedure

The process suspect for human cloning is called somatic ce­ll nuclear transfer (SCNT), which is the method used to create Dolly. Somatic cell nuclear transfer involves doctors removing an egg cell from a female donor. The doctors then remove its nucleus, thus creating an enucleated egg. Another cell, which contains DNA, is taken from the organism being cloned. Scientists then fuse the enucleated egg and the subject’s cell with electricity. Once the cells fuze, an embryo is created.  Doctors then implant the embryo into a surrogate mother through in-vitro fertilization (Bonsor and Conger).

History

Cloning is a popular topic in science-fiction literature. However, the idea of cloning has been around for a long time. The first data found on the concept of cloning dates back to approximately 40 years ago. Furthermore, in 1952, scientists cloned frogs from asexual tadpole cells. Furthermore, in 1997, scientists in Scotland successfully cloned Dolly the sheep, which brought cloning technology into the spotlight (McGee).

Medical Advancements

Stem Cells

Cloning provides great medical advancements via stem cells. These specialized cells can develop into any cell type in the body.  This talent is what makes them the stars of regenerative medicine research. The industrial goal of cloning is to grow stem cells to produce new tissues and organs for patients suffering from various diseases. With today’s technology, scientists can alter adult cells to create single-use pluripotent cells that have the ability to differentiate into different types of cells.  These cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) (McGee).

Reproductive Assistance

Additionally, cloning can benefit medical advances and patient care in the healthcare industry.  One of the most likely uses is as a method of assisted reproduction. Infertility affects approximately 10-15% of couples of the reproductive age throughout the developing world.  However, the widespread introduction of assisted reproductive technologies has resulted in a high number of pregnancies and births that otherwise could not have occurred.

On the other hand, some people may not be able to find success in these methods possibly due to the absence of sperm or egg cells.  The only options for these individuals are sperm donation, oocyte donation, adoption, surrogate mothers or reproductive cloning.  Couples and individuals who wish to bear a child who has their DNA must utilize reproductive cloning to have success. Assisted reproductive cloning could also be used by individuals or couples who do not wish to reproduce by traditional means.  By using cloning technology, couples or individuals can solve infertility or reproduce with minimal genetic input from another party (Zavos).

Therapeutic Cloning

Another medical use for cloning technology is therapeutic cloning. Cloning could be used to create tissues immunologically identical to an existing individual. In therapeutic cloning, genetic material from and the adult cell is placed inside an egg to grow beneficial stem cells. This procedure does not produce a baby. Instead, scientists seek to use the stem cells to generate necessary organs for transplant independently. They can also increase our understanding of development and the origins of disease (Barglow).

 

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References

Barglow, Raymond. “Therapeutic Cloning Can Save Lives.” 2002. Document.

Bonsor, Kevin and Cristen Conger. How Stuff Works: How Human Cloning Will Work. 26 May 2013.

Jackson, Wayne. “Ethics of Human Cloning, The.” Document.

McGee, Glenn. “The Ethics of Human Cloning: An Overview.” 2001. Document.

Zavos, Panayiotis. “Reproductive Cloning is Moral.” 2002. Document.

Picture Resources: Featured Image: https://pixabay.com/en/dna-string-biology-3d-1811955/https://pixabay.com/en/sheep-sheep-s-wool-wool-animal-345691/https://pixabay.com/en/baby-child-cute-dad-daddy-family-22194/https://pixabay.com/en/care-diagnose-disease-health-3031259/

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