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Cloning

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A Clone Again, Unnaturally

close up of a large spider in man's hand

Cloning scares me. Then again, so do spiders. What I found after my brief research into this area of biotechnology, is that there are different types of cloning. And just like spiders, there are some types of cloning that I should be wary of, but many may be considered beneficial.

There are plenty of moral and ethical concerns associated with cloning. A good understanding of the basic science and processes that lay behind cloning and what they can do, will help us make better decisions regarding its use.

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What is Cloning?

Cloning is an umbrella term to describe different processes for duplicating biological material.

When the media report on cloning in the news, they are usually talking about only one type called "reproductive cloning". There are different types of cloning however, and cloning technologies can be used for other purposes besides producing the genetic twin of another organism.

A basic understanding of the different types of cloning is key to taking an informed stance on current public policy issues and making the best possible personal decisions.

 

Reproductive Cloning

Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology.

cloning infographic

 

Therapeutic Cloning

Therapeutic cloning, also called "embryo cloning," is the production of human embryos for use in research. The goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease.

 

DNA Cloning

The terms "recombinant DNA technology," "DNA cloning," "molecular cloning" or "gene cloning" all refer to the same process: the transfer of a DNA fragment from one organism to a self-replicating genetic element such as a bacterial plasmid. The DNA can then be propagated in a foreign host cell. This technology has been around since the 1970s, and it has become a common practice in molecular biology labs today.

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dolly the cloned sheep

Cloning Animals

Farmers and ranchers are cloning animals for the same reason they selectively breed them, to reproduce better livestock. This type of cloning is an assisted reproductive technology that allows livestock breeders and others to create identical twins of their best animals. This breeding technique does not change the genetic make-up of the animal.

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Cloning Humans

Should humans be cloned? Physicians from the American Medical Association and scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science have issued formal public statements advising against human reproductive cloning. With so many unknowns concerning reproductive cloning, the attempt to clone humans at this time is considered potentially dangerous and ethically irresponsible.

Source

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Ethical Concerns of Cloning

The announcement of Dolly sparked widespread speculation about a human child being created using somatic cell nuclear transfer. Much of the perceived fear that greeted this announcement, centered on the misperception that a child or many children could be produced who would be identical to an already existing person. This fear is based on the idea of "genetic determinism" -- that genes alone determine all aspects of an individual -- and reflects the belief that a person's genes bear a simple relationship to the physical and psychological traits that compose that individual. Although genes play an essential role in the formation of physical and behavioral characteristics, each individual is, in fact, the result of a complex interaction between his or her genes and the environment within which he or she develops.

Source: Genome.gov

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Cloning to Save Endangered Species

Some people see cloning as a way to remedy the problem of endangered species, and to reproduce those that have already disappeared.

Ten extinct beasts that could walk the Earth again

What role for conservation cloning?

Raising the dead

Cloning 'resurrects' long-dead mice

Cloning Articles, Blogs and Web Sites

All Links open in a new window. Bold = Recommended

Cloning Articles
Title Source Date
Genetically-Modified Cattle With Human DNA Might Hold Ebola Cure Myarklamiss.com 01/15
Woolly mammoth cloning attempt revives ethical debate CBC News 01/15
Saving the White Rhino: Cloning Over Conservation? Care2 12/14
For $100,000, You Can Clone Your Dog Bloomberg 10/14
Siberian scientists announce they now have a 'high chance' to clone the woolly mammoth Siberian Times 03/14
Bringing Them Back to Life NatGeo 04/13
Will Cloning Ever Save Endangered Animals? SciAm 03/13
Could Ancient Giants Be Cloned? Valley News 01/13
Japanese scientists to resurrect extinct woolly mammoth from frozen DNA Daily Mail 01/11
In one niche, the risk to women is too great Boston Globe 11/10
EU Nears Ban on Animal Cloning WSJ 10/10
Fertile mice created from skin cells New Scientist 08/09
Artificial Life One Step Closer Science Daily 08/09
Cloning: Right or Wrong Serendip 04/08
Cloning SkewsMe 05/07
Scientists create a sheep that's 15% human The Mail 03/07
The Perils of Cloning Time 07/06

 

Cloning Web Sites and Blogs
Title Description
Cloned animal images Guardian
Cloning Wikipedia
Cloning Embryonic Stem Cells Genome.gov
Cloning Fact Sheet ORNL
Cloning resources NIH
Genetic Science Learning Center University of Utah
How Cloning Works HowStuffWorks
Human Cloning AMA
Human Cloning: How Close Is It? Frontline
Human Cloning - the Risks BioNet
What Are the Risks of Cloning? University of Utah

 

References
Article Sources
A Clone Again, Unnaturally Article by ffa
Image is licensed photo from istock.com
What is Cloning? Article paraphrased from ornl.gov Infographic from Genome.gov
Dolly Image from Wikimedia Commons

 









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Many of the articles found on this web site are from a blogger that couldn't tell you the difference between hydrochloric and high colonic. I try my very best to provide you with useful, accurate information, but I don't always get it right. Please read my full disclaimer before quoting me at work, school or world conferences.