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Cloning (Collective Research)

X-ELECT Research Paper
David Gozali H2-C #14

Human cloning was first raised when Scottish scientists in Roslin Institute first duplicated a sheep named “Dolly” in 1997. It became a worldwide interest and concern because of its scientific and ethical implications.

Cloning is the creation of an organism that is an exact genetic copy of another, but did you know it is actually an umbrella term that is used by scientists to describe the different processes or doubling or multiplying biological material. Cloning is the production of a group of genetically the same cells or organisms that all came from a single individual. The word ‘cloning’ actually means genetic engineering techniques to produce either lines of identical looking and acting cells or genetically identical animals or plants.  When we speak of cloned animals, this does not mean they are alike. They just have identical genes.

Cloning actually has a lot of benefits like rejuvenation, reversing heart attacks and plastic, reconstructive plastic surgery. It can be used to even make new cells for stem cell research, which can cure diseases like cancer, but that is another topic. When the media report on cloning, the media usually refers to only one type of reproductive cloning. There are actually three different types of cloning:(1) recombinant DNA technology or DNA cloning, (2) reproductive cloning, and (3) therapeutic cloning. Cloning actually is not only used for creating genetic twins of another organism but also has other uses. Having a basic understanding of the types of cloning will help in taking an informed stance on current public policy issues to thus make the best personal decision. This actually focuses on the three types of cloning.

The terms “recombinant DNA technology,” “DNA cloning,” “molecular cloning,” and “gene cloning” all mean the same thing, the transfer of a DNA fragment of interest from one organism to a self-replicating genetic element such as a bacterial plasmid so that another replicate may be produced such as with genes. It can be simply defined though as the cloning in which it creates copies of genes or segments of DNA. The DNA of interest may now be propagated into a foreign cell. Aside from mammalian cells and yeast, bacteria are most often used as the host cells for recombinant DNA molecules.

Reproductive Cloning on the other hand is a technology used to generate an animal with the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. It is described that creates copies of whole animals. The very first to have been successfully cloned using this is a sheep named Dolly. By “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (SCNT), scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg with the nucleus removed together with its genetic material. To stimulate cell division, the reconstructed egg containing the DNA from a donor cell must be treated with chemicals or electric current. When the cloned embryo reaches a fitting stage, it is transferred to the uterus of a female host where it continues to develop until birth.

Now you may ask what the difference of the natural way of fertilization and the SCNT. The fertilization of an egg by a sperm and the SCNT cloning method actually have the same result: a dividing ball of cells, called an embryo. The main difference is this; an embryo consists of cells that contain two complete sets of chromosomes. The difference between the fertilization and SCNT is where the two sets came from.
In fertilization, the sperm and egg both contain one set of chromosomes. When the sperm and egg meet, the resulting zygote ends up with two sets – one from the father (sperm) and one from the mother (egg).
In SCNT, the egg cell’s single set of chromosomes is removed. It is replaced by the nucleus from a somatic cell. This already contains two complete sets of chromosomes. Therefore, in the resulting embryo, both sets of chromosomes actually originated from the somatic cell.

Therapeutic Cloning is also called embryo cloning. This mainly focuses on embryonic stem cells. It is the production of human embryos for research. Here cloning human beings isn’t the goal but instead to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease. Stem cells are used by biomedical researchers because they generate virtually and type of specialized cell in the body.

Bibliography:
1. U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program’s Biological and Envirnment Research Information System (PERIS), Cloning Fact Sheet Published: May 11, 2009. Accessed on July 12 and 19, 2010, from <http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml&gt;
2. Eureka ! Science Corporation (1998-2008), Cloning – cells, plants and animals, Accessed on July, 2010, from <http://www.eurekascience.com/ICanDoThat/cloning.htm&gt;
3. Genetic Science Learning Center (2010, May 28) What is Cloning?. Learn.Genetics. Accessed July 2010, from <http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/whatiscloning&gt;
4. Simon Smith (1998). “The Benefits of Human Cloning.” Accessed on July, 2010 from <http://www.humancloning.org/benefits.htm&gt;
5. Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. (1998-2010). How Cloning Works. Accessed on July 2010 from < http://science.howstuffworks.com/genetic-science/cloning.htm&gt;
6. National Human Genome Research Institute (May 7, 2010). Cloning: Medline Plus. July 2010 from <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cloning.html&gt;
7. Finchman, J. R. S., and Ravetz, J. R., Genetically Engineered Organisms: Benefits and Risks (1991); Jackson, J.B., Population Biology and Evolution of Clonal Organisms (1986); Kythe, Lydiane, Plants from Test Tubes, rev. ed. (1987). Lexicon Encyclopedia Version 1994 (Volume Cit-Cz pages 64-65) by Lexicon Publications. Printed and Manufactured in United States of America. Accessed: July 7, 2010

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