What is Cloning?
Clones are organisms that are exact genetic copies. Every single bit of their DNA is identical. Clones can happen naturally identical twins are just one of many examples. Or they can be made in the lab. Below, find out how natural identical twins are similar to and different from clones made through modern cloning technologies.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT):
Diagram of SCNT Process:
In somatic cell nuclear transfer (“SCNT”), the nucleus of a somatic cell is taken from a donor and transplanted into a host egg cell, which had its own genetic material removed previously, making it an enucleated egg. After the donor somatic cell genetic material is transferred into the host oocyte with a micropipette, the somatic cell genetic material is fused with the egg using an electric current. Once the two cells have fused, the new cell can be permitted to grow in a surrogate or artificially. This is the process that was used to successfully clone Dolly the sheep.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs):
Creating induced pluripotent stem cells (“iPSCs”) is a long and inefficient process. Pluripotency refers to a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system). A specific set of genes, often called “reprogramming factors”, are introduced into a specific adult cell type. These factors send signals in the mature cell that cause the cell to become a pluripotent stem cell. This process is highly studied and new techniques are being discovered frequently on how to better this induction process.
Depending on the method used, reprogramming of adult cells into iPSCs for implantation could have severe limitations in humans. If a virus is used as a reprogramming factor for the cell, cancer-causing genes called oncogenes may be activated. These cells would appear as rapidly dividing cancer cells that do not respond to the body’s natural cell signaling process. However, in 2008 scientists discovered a technique that could remove the presence of these oncogenes after pluripotency induction, thereby increasing the potential use of iPSC in humans.
The Advantages of Human Cloning:
- Biological Children to Infertile Couples
Couples who are not able to naturally conceive a child would be able to clone themselves in order to have a biological child. This would also open the possibility for gay or lesbian couples to have a child that contains both parent’s DNA and genes.
- Medical Advancement Boom
Once the process of cloning humans is perfected and becomes a common practice, many other worlds of medical research would be expanded. This would result in improved medicines and even possibly cures for terminal and deadly diseases.
- Compensating A Loss
Parents who have lost a child could clone them and have their child back. This would also go for someone who lost a spouse or another family member. This breaches into the more controversial side of human cloning, but is an advantage none the less.
- Organ Harvesting
Anyone who is in need of an organ transplant is placed on an excruciatingly long donor list. Many of these people pass on from their illness before ever receiving a transplant. With human cloning, organs could be cloned from the person’s tissue and used as a transplant. This would effectively eliminate the organ transplant waiting list.
- The Elimination of Birth Defects
Any severe birth defect that is detected in the womb could be reversed using human cloning. They would simply take the tissue of the child and create a clone. After they have done this they could manipulate the embryos genes to remove the birth defect and give them a better possibility of living a long and fulfilling life.
- Prolonged Life
If a person is aging, they could have their young cell cloned in order to preserve their youth. This would be done with the technology of human cloning, and could prolong the average life span of a human being dramatically.
- Bring Back Great Minds
Legendary, genius, and influential people could be brought back using human cloning. This means that we could possibly create a dozen Einstein’s or Abraham Lincolns to come and help solve world problems.
The Disadvantages of Human Cloning:
- Currently Low Success Rates
With the current information that we have on the process of cloning, there seems to be very limited success. Out of all of the animal testing on cloning that has been conducting, only about 3 percent have been successful. This is a very scary statistic, especially when you’re talking about using human lives.
- Development of New Illnesses
When you are creating entirely new forms of genes, you run the risk of also developing new illnesses and diseases. The extent and effects of these could be devastating.
- Devalues Human Lives
The belief that a person only has one life to live has been ingrained into people since the beginning of humanity. Being able to simply clone someone who has passed devalues the life that they have.
- Divisions in Society
People who are cloned would likely be viewed as lesser citizens than those who were conceived naturally. This would bring an entirely new breed of racism and prejudice to the world that could cause devastating social divides. Clones would feel as though they are not as much of a human as other people.
- Moral and Ethical Problems
Religion and cultural problems have played the largest part in the argument against human cloning. Many people believe that cloning a human being is “playing God” and should not be done under any circumstance.
Yale University, Economics