Cloning Research Papers
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Cloning is currently used primarily in the medical and agricultural fields. With a few notable exceptions, researchers in the field are focusing on the following:
- Cloning Genes
- Cloning Small Organisms
- Cloning Tissues
- Cloning foods (primarily vegetables, grains, etc.)
In those areas of research new processes for examining diseases have been developed. Take, for example, the genetic condition called “Fragile X Syndrome”, which adversely affects the cognitive development of its victims.
Currently, cloning is being used to duplicate the “fragile” X chromosome so that it may be studied in a non-invasive manner. The hope is that through cloning, sufficient quantities of the gene can be produced for study that a cure may be found. In this example, it is against the actual defective gene that science is battling. Without cloning, treatment research of any sort, including the current advances in the treatment of diabetes that has come directly from the advancement of cloning, is limited to experimentation with limited volume samples, necessitating greater amounts of donor tissues. Cloning, then, reduces drastically the need for human subjects to provide the medium for experimentation when a single sample may be used to reproduce clones in sufficient and renewable volume. It is important to understand that this single example is representative of the obvious and often overlooked benefits of human cloning. That it can reduce the suffering of others in many ways.
Despite this overwhelming response from the scientific community, it did not take long for researchers to find flaw with Dolly’s genetics. Researchers working with the animal soon found that while some of the genetic material from Dolly’s parent cells had been incorporated into her genetic code, the mitrochondrial DNA that is ultimately responsible for cell development and growth cannot be predicted by the specific DNA introduced by the parent cells. As such, on a genetic level, Dolly was not an exact clone. It was at this point that researchers discovered that exact replicas of animals could not be made without manipulations of mitochondrial DNA. Unfortunately research in this area is still highly skeptical.
Utilizing Dolly as a benchmark for future cloning experiments, researchers observed the animal to discern if any notable differences could be seen between this clone and other sheep. Through investigation researchers found that Dolly developed arthritis earlier in her life than other sheep. Although researchers are not sure if this was due to the fact that Dolly’s DNA came from a mature sheep—making Dolly genetically much older—the development of arthritis did give a number of researchers reason to suspect problems with the cloning process. Dolly subsequently died at the age of 6 from a lung infection—which is common among sheep—making intensive study on her arthritic condition impossible.
As the news of Dolly’s death began to spread through the news, so too did new reports about the dangers of cloning. Researchers began noting that even several years after Dolly had been cloned, marked problems with clones animals continued to occur. “Several years of animal cloning work had taught them that most cloned animals never even make it to birth, and the rare ones that do all too frequently have problems ranging from physical deformities to life-threatening medical conditions”. To illustrate the complications that have resulted, researchers have noted the case of Second Chance, a cloned calf. In his first week of life he was riddled with medical complications that included the following:
- Underdeveloped lungs
- Juvenile diabetes
- A skin infection
In addition, there is the case of Noah, the clone of an ox-like jaguar that is near extinction. In this case, Noah died in the first two days of life from an infection that compromised his immune system.Taking this information and placing it within the context of human cloning, researchers argue that there is no evidence to suggest that the same fate would not befall humans. One author goes so far as to argue, “Cloning results in gestational or neonatal developmental failures. At best, a few percent of the nuclear transfer embryos survive to birth and, of those, many die within the perinatal period. There is no reason to believe that the outcomes of attempted human cloning will be any different”. These authors go on to note that to clone a human at a time when the specific biological repercussions cannot be determined would be both reckless and dangerous.
While the specific biological issues associated with the process of cloning are clearly reason enough to ban the practice, the reality is that there are also a number of ethical issues that are directly associated with the practice that are not easily answered. For example, one author argues that experimentation with human cells for the purposes of creating a clone raises the following question: “What is the moral status of the human embryo?”. Clearly, this is an issue that has been widely debated since the time of Roe v. Wade. However, with the potential to create human life from the cloned embryo a more definitive definition of when life begins would be warranted