Interesting Cloning Proposal
In 1997, researchers led by embryologist Ian Wilmut, found a way to do the seemingly impossible they produced Dolly, the first clone of adult mammal. Since then, scientists around the world have been trying to duplicate and advance the work in a variety of species from mice to monkeys. Some have succeeded, but many more have been thwarted in their efforts. A few researchers had even set out to clone human, without success. But very recently, scientists at Advanced Cell Technology, a small biotech start-up company in Worcester, Mass., announced that they have successfully engineered the world's first cloned human embryo.
The scientists described their laboratory success the transfer of human DNA into human eggs and the growth of those eggs into six-cell embryos in a highly technical paper in the Journal of Regenerative Medicine. However, the accomplishment presents huge challenges to every premise of scientific, religious, and legal thought. It will be condemned as an ethical abomination akin to playing God and described as the creation of embryos for spare parts. It will also be hailed as the hugest medical breakthrough of the past half-century an accomplishment that could cure many diseases of aging and provides hopes for many people.
Scientist working towards the goal of cloning human cells face many oppositions and even threats from the public since it is undoubtedly the most controversial area in medicine today. But most of the hysteria came from misunderstandings in many aspects of the project, for example, what a human embryo is. The furthest any of the cloned human embryos developed to was to 6 cells. During the first 14 days after an egg is fertilized, the group of cells is known as a pre-implantation embryo. In nature, the majority of these pass from the body without ever attaching to a woman's uterus and developing further. They are a few reproductive cells, not much different than eggs or sperm. They are the raw materials of life, but they are not a person.
There are two major types of cloning according to ACT reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning is essentially an extension of the idea of asexual reproduction. ACT considers cloning for reproductive purposes as completely unethical because the risk to both children and mother is too great. ACT vice president Dr. Robert Lanza claimed, our intention is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to make lifesaving therapies for a wide range of human disease conditions, including diabetes, strokes, cancer, Aids, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
¨ Because body cells are rejuvenated by an egg's proteins, therapeutic cloning would also tackle aging itself, replenishing the body with younger, more vigorous cells than even the most healthy cells already in place. And because DNA removed from a body cell can be tinkered with before it is placed into an egg, Lanza hopes someday to add factors, genes for immune cells, for example, that would make a patient resistant to AIDS.
Despite the scientific achievement that therapeutic cloning can bring us, there are still some potential harms and disadvantages:
- Loss of genetic variation
- A black market of fetuses may arise
- Technology is not yet well developed
- Clones may be treated as second-class citizens
- Unknown psychosocial harms with impacts on the family and society
The long term genetic effects of cloning may cause more problems than can be imagined. In an evolutionary standpoint, cloning is not good. Evolution relies on a continual mixing and matching of genes to keep the gene pool alive (McCormack). With cloning, the natural process of selection of genes would be bypassed and evolution would be impaired. More importantly, present technology does not effectively support the cloning of humans. There is still more to be researched and experimented.
Human cloning is a revolutionary issue that will eventually affect all of our lives. As a student studying biophysics, I have great interest in the topic and will approach both sides of the topic with an unbiased viewpoint. My primary data sources will include online journals, reports, and the latest news. I will also discuss the issue with professors in related departments and try to understand their point of views. I propose to write a report as an update and analysis for undergraduate students who are interested in the subject. With your approval I will begin research at once.
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