Cloning Cloning Twenty-five years ago, scientists thought that cloning was virtually impossible. In the last five years, the science of cloning, has come to realization. What is a clone? A clone is a duplicate – much like a photocopy is a duplicate, or copy, of a document (Kolate, 238). A good example of copies that occur in nature are identical twins, which are duplicates of each other. On a daily basis, molecular geneticists and other scientists use cloning techniques to replicate various genetic materials such as gene segments and cells (Kolate, 238).
Recently the cloning of a living life form was brought from the realms of science fiction to reality with the cloning of a sheep named Dolly (Kolate 236). Imagine meeting an exact replica of somebody or yourself seven to ten years from now (Kaku 6). They look alike, and even have the same genetic makeup. This is the new world of cloning. As with every new science, there are those who believe in it, and those who oppose it. So many questions arise. What if some one like Hitler had access to this technology? Would people want two identical copies of a child or a relative? What are the chances of people illegally obtaining blood samples of, for example, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, or even Lee Harvey Oswald for sale on the black market? Is there a way we can possibly outlaw and enforce cloning? Could this development actually be used for a benefit, such as bringing back endangered or extinct animals? The instantaneous reaction of the world has been mixed.
However, the overall benefits appear to out weigh the other factors. This new technological development can not be passed off. It has the potential of enormous benefits to society. The new technology of cloning should be utilized because it could bring back extinct organisms, help infertile couples to have children, and potentially save many lives. Cloning could bring back extinct animals (Kaku 227).
Over millions of years, thousands of different species have gone extinct. Most were due to natural selection, while several others were due to human intervention. Approximately two-thirds of all the native bird species (Kendall n/a) and one-fifth of the native plants (Kendall n/a) originally found on the Hawaiian Islands have gone extinct recently. Predators, competitors, or diseases introduced by humans from continental areas are responsible for many of the extinctions. Also, many remaining species on other oceanic islands are threatened or endangered. A benefit of cloning would be the cloning of “endangered species that have difficulty reproducing in captivity” (Kaku 227). Many of the animal species, and numerous plant species could be brought back to life with cloning. Even though there is currently no technique for bringing the plants back, with technology advancing so quickly, we could have a solution in the near future.
Ultimately, cloning could have significant human applications. Cloning could help a couple unable to have children because one of them was infertile. In the case of an infertile father, scientists take an egg from the mother, remove its nucleus, then take a cell from the father, remove its nucleus, and place the nucleus inside the empty egg (Kolate 242). That cell acts as a reproductive cell. They then put the egg in the mothers’ womb to impregnate her. “Mark Sayer, an infertility expert at Columbia Presbyterian Medial Center in New York, would like to take each cell from an early human embryo and clone it, making identical twin embryos in the woman’s uterus immediately, and freeze any extras for future attempts at pregnancy” (Kolate 242). The attempt would prove that the process of reprogramming a cell’s DNA begins with clones (Kolate 237).
In the field of medicine, cloning can be a very useful technique. “A major goal of scientists working on cloning is to clone genes that direct the production of medically significant uses in treating disease” (Robel n/a). Medical scientists would be able to not only reproduce the genes, but would be able to transfer them and to study them (Kolate 236). It would be possible to study organs of the human body to learn how they could alter them to cause them to regenerate after injury. “Another possible medical use for cloning is the development of pigs that have been modified with human genes so their organs can be transplanted into humans” (Charles F01). “Other research applications of cloning would involve genetically modifying adult cells to be cloned to create animal models of human diseases to study the effects of drugs” (Charles F01).
The ways of reproducing genes and copying DNA could help in finding cures for certain diseases and disorders. Scientists could take DNA from healthy cells and copy it, then inject it into an unhealthy cell to cancel out the “bad” genes (Charles F01). Cloning would also help parents that are facing the possible loss of a child due to illness. “More palatable than the ego clone .. is the medical clone, a baby created to provide transplant material for the original” (Kluger 66).
The idea of a medical clone, or “a baby created to provide transplant material for the original child” has surfaced (Kluger 70). While the idea of “harvesting a one-of-a-kind organ, such as a heart from a new child” resulting in creating a clone just to kill it for the organ is not advocated (Kluger 70), most parents “are not against raising a clone, or identical child so some of its bone marrow can be used to save the life of the first child” (Kluger 69). The idea that future clones could produce such medically important substances as Insulin, interferon, and growth hormone is exciting to scientist (Robel n/a). “To begin with, the most stunning, but least disputed possibility, is to consider the idea of using human cloning to grow your own organs for transplant”(Kolate 234). A noted Harvard Medical School professor, Stuart Orkin, testified before a presidential ethics commission in 1997 and predicted “that it might be possible to use the cloning breakthrough to enable patients to grow their own bone marrow that would be a perfect match and ready when the patient needed it” (Kolate 234). Another medical benefit of cloning could lead the way to “creating genetically altered animal that act as living drug factories by producing valuable pharmaceutical substances in their milk” (Small 3).
Also, such genetically altered animals could be used “as living organ factories because their organs would not be rejected by the human immune system” (Small 3). In addition, medical scientist hope to “use cloned, genetically engineered cows as donors for neutral cells that could be used to treat nerve-damaging diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes” (Small 3). At Genzyme Transgenics Corporatation, they are working on making “a heard of genetically engineered cattle that will produce the human serum, albumin, a protein that is currently derived from pooled human plasma, and is given to people who have suffered blood loss” (Small 4). Because of the overwhelming positive implications, society must embrace this the idea of cloning. The new technology of cloning should be used because it could resurrect extinct animals, give infertile couples new hope, and provide medical science with a new tool that could potentially save thousands of lives. With recent advances moving along at such speed, cloning will become an integral part of our society.