Thursday, October 14, 2010

Human and Animal Cloning by Sarah King


Imagine if you had a twin. But instead of variations normally found in twins, this person was like you in every way imaginable, from looks to the way they acted and spoke. In clones, every detail is the same, down to fingerprints.

Cloning is still a process that is very elusive is the scientific world. The possibility of human and animal cloning was raised when scientists in Scotland created “Dolly”, the first mammal cloned. Dolly was cloned in 1997, created from embryonic cells. This raised many questions about human cloning, as well as animal cloning, such as the ethics of it, as well as the benefits it may have on humanity. Before Dolly, other animals such as sea urchins, salamanders and frogs had been cloned.


The discovery of cloning started in the later 1800s. Hans Driesch, whose goal was not to create an identical animal but to prove that genetic material is not lost during cell division, created the first cloned animals. He used sea urchins because of the large embryo cells. In 1902, another scientist named Hans Spemann cloned a salamander by separating a two-celled embryo. Human cloning, as well as animal cloning are both processes that scientists are still working on in order to develop more knowledge. To this date, the lists of species that have been cloned include: tadpole, carp, mice, sheep, Rhesus monkey, Guar, cattle, cat, dog, rat, mule, horse, water buffalo and camel.

Biography of Investigator:

Hans Driesch was born October 28th, 1867 and died April 14th, 1941. He began studying medicine in 1886 in Germany. In 1888, he studied physics and chemistry at the University of Munich and received his doctorate in 1889. His experiments opened the door to the possibility that large pieces of eggs could be removed. His results were later confirmed by Hans Spemann.

Hans Spemann was born in 1869 in Germany. He attended the University of Heidelberg and the University of Munch before earning his Ph.D. He wasn’t interested in embryology until after college years. In 1902, he used a strand of hair and successfully split apart the cells of a two celled salamander. He continued his experiments and completed one of the first cloning experiments using the nuclear transfer method. In 1935, he received the Nobel Prize in medicine. His discoveries greatly influenced embryology and he helped create precise laboratory instruments that led to many advances in microsurgical equipment in his time.

Impact on the World:

The cloning of mammals can be used to make farming more productive. By cloning, we can replicate the best animals. It can also make medical testing of new drugs more accurate because it will insure that all subjects react the same way to the same drug. Using the process of cloning could produce a large number of identical animals for the testing of the drug.

Another benefit from cloning would be to help recover endangered animals. Currently, researchers are considering cloning animals such as the giant panda, ocelot and the cheetah. Scientists also hope to be able to clone extinct species. For example, the last Bucardo died in 2000 and immediately after tissue samples were frozen in hopes of cloning. In January of 2009, the Bucardo became the first extinct animal successfully cloned. However, it died shortly after birth. The “Frozen Zoo” at the San Diego zoo is now home to many frozen tissue samples from the world’s rarest and most endangered species.

Human cloning is something that is often thought of only in science-fiction novels or in pop-culture references such as Disney Channel’s “The Other Me”. But this soon may become a reality. Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of an existing or previously existing human. Two commonly discussed forms of human cloning are therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning involves cloning adult cells for use in medicine. This is also called embryo cloning. The goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat diseases. Reproductive cloning involves making cloned humans. This is used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as a preexisting animal. Reproductive cloning created Dolly the sheep.


With great scientific advancements, the same question always presents itself: Is it ethically correct?

Some ethical issues that come along with human cloning are the technical and medical safety, confusing personal identity and possibly the mental development of the clone, and promoting trends toward “designer babies” and human enhancement.

So much is still unknown about human cloning, that we have no idea whether the clone will be able to develop mentally and psychologically as a normal human would. With the studies done on cattle and other such animals, psychological development is not important. But with human cloning, the assurance of a mentally healthy clone is essential. Humans may be harmed during either the cloning process or after being cloned. Human cloning may promote the idea of “designer babies”. If humans can create identical copies of themselves, then what is stopping us from create our own children, from the color of their eyes and hair, to their personality traits and IQ.

On December 28th, 2006, the U.S Food and Drug Administration approved the consumption of meat and other products from cloned animals. The products were said to be virtually the same as products from non-cloned animals. However, 56% said they would not eat the meat of a cloned animal, and two out of three people find the cloning of Dolly the sheep to be inhumane. If selling cloned meat, companies would not be required to specify that the meat came from a cloned animal. An ethical question that has caused great speculation is whether or not it is morally acceptable to simply clone animals for the intention of killing. Another question to carefully be considered is that the FDA does not consider the result of some studies that cloned animals have increased rates of morality and deformity at birth. The animals cloned are at much more of a risk at birth than naturally created animals.

Review of Journal Article:

In the journal article Benefits and Problems with Cloning Animals, the five authors, Lawrence C. Smith, Vilceu Bordignon, Marie Babkine, Gilles Fecteau and Carl Keefer, they discuss the potential applications of cloning animals, such as multiplication of embryos and recovery of endangered animals. The article keeps an impartial view by also discussing the possible health hazards such as losses during pregnancy and neonatal health problems. Overall the article reviews the positives and negatives of animal cloning, as well as the devote amount of research being applied to this vast new area of science.


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