Posted: November 27th, 2013
When asexual reproduction is used to create genetic replicas of (parent) human cells, human cloning occurs. Clones are identical genetically but behavior and appearance is dependent on other environmental factors. Twining is another term widely used to refer to human cloning where a part of a developing embryo is separated in the laboratory and allowed to develop. Consequently, twins of the initial embryo are formed (Humber & Almeder 2010). In a strict sense, twining does not refer to cloning since the later involves the insertion of a diploid nucleus into an unfertilized egg whose haploid nucleus is absent.
Human cloning is classified in accordance with the purpose leading to two distinguished classifications. The first is the reproductive cloning involving the formation of a matching copy of an exiting person. It is divided into two categories one called embryo splitting and the other somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Embryo splitting entails the multiplication of solitary cells of an embryo in its early stages. The later uses the somatic cell nucleus to clone the genome or genetic structure of an individual who can be living or deceased. Embryo splitting enhances the possibility of producing a twin to a person born years prior.
Conversely, if the aim of the cloning is to create body parts with same genetic make up with a specific human then therapeutic cloning occurs. Conventionally, cloning had a reproduction purpose but that has changed with advances in stem cell technology. The human organs and tissues posses’ cells capable of regeneration and renewal producing other differentiated cells. These cells are known as stem cells. Stem cell technology has enhanced the therapeutic purpose since human tissue repair is possible. A human embryo is not allowed to develop fully but stem cells are obtained from it and subsequently grown into organs as well as tissues. Speculation and theorization of integrating both therapeutic and reproductive cloning to generate body parts at risk of failure or death is on the increase. The integration of this two cloning classification is forecasted to produce the replacement cloning as a third classification.
Impact of human cloning
Tissue and organ reconstruction
Human cloning is dynamically going through developmental phases however; its medical possibilities are limitless. Therapeutic cloning holds more potential to contribute to regenerative medicine where restoration of function in damaged tissues and organs is facilitated. Patients have been known to go through an agonizing wait for donor organs. Damage to organs and tissue can result from a variety of reasons ranging from congenital abnormalities to iatrogenic wounds. Surprisingly, one in five people who reach sixty-five years in North America are liable to receiving a temporary or permanent organ transplant.
Shortage of donor organs has always limited the reconstructive processes in the medical field given the rising need. Additionally, treating the patients using convectional reconstructions has proved to be very costly, most of the times amount to trillions of dollars annually. Therapeutic from of human cloning is providing an alternate organ construction approach given clones from a person’s native cells have no possibility of rejection. This exponential increases the success rate of tissue and organ reconstruction (Peacock, 2010).
A prime impact resulting from somatic nucleus transfer human cloning is offering a new lease to vitro fertilization. This is necessitated presently by the increasing difficulty in treating male infertility. The only limitation is the child would either be a progeny of the father or the mother and would create relational dilemmas in future. It also offers a procreative chance to couples unable to have a biological child. This is illustrated by gays and lesbians who are reluctant to have third parties donate an egg or sperm since they may assert parent rights.
In an instance where individuals seek to avoid transmission of a hereditary disease or condition, SCNT offers the chance to procreate alternatively from sexual production. This happens in situations where the gene mutations associated with the particular disorder are not entirely known and parental screening cannot be effective. This ensures reproduction of a healthy child with genetic link to either of the parents.
Improving human abilities
Additionally, there have been speculations of making a better race through human cloning where genes are obtained from individuals with superior capabilities ranging from athletic to intellectual. This will involve, perpetuating abilities considered super human via gene replication. However, this issue has triggered ethical concerns on many levels since it would be creating another demarcation amidst humanity with enough like race and tribe already in existent. Moreover, there are chances of commercialization where clones or genes from highly esteemed people in the society may be put on sale (Johnson, 2011).
Nevertheless, this is only possible of the rate of success is improved given the present rate is 1.3 percent (Cohen, 2010). The survival rate is small whereas the human female produces one to two eggs monthly and ten to twelve if induced hormonally. This implies difficulty and expense in the procedure unless a great survival is guaranteed. Additionally, the mortality rate of clones as evidenced by animals is high as compared to sexually reproduced counterparts. As illustrated by Dolly the clone sheep, there are uncertainties associated with the procedure where the gene chromosomes for Dolly were only available in a sheep beyond the age of six. This casts questions whether Dolly was in possession of other attributes associated with aging mammals at birth.
Loss of diversity
Genetic diversity is important in ascertaining adaptability in a dynamic environment as postulated by evolutionists. Diversity plays a vital role in curbing human annihilation by disease pathogens or climatic change since progressive cloning will lead to holistic similarity making the human race very vulnerable. This coupled with diminished beauty coming associated with homogeneity makes the impacts of reproductive cloning warrant a second consideration. There are likely questions of how to treat clones whether as merely scientific experiments or as a real species.
Genetic engineering has progressed to produce great scientific feats such as human cloning. Human cloning essentially involving the asexual reproduction of genetic replicas has been divided into therapeutic and reproduction cloning. The later has stirred controversy about its relevance and use whereas therapeutic cloning has been embraced as a medical break through in regards to its limitless uses. Tissue and organ reconstruction has the potential of being faster and easier aiding millions of patients in need of reconstruction or organ transplants. Reproduction cloning offers and alternate procreative ability to couples unable to biologically. Therapeutic cloning should be advanced more whereas reproduction cloning should be regulated to optimize its advantages and limit attachment of inherent risks such as elimination of species diversity.
Cohen, M. (2010). Genetic engineering. New York: Crabtree Pub.
Humber J. M., & Almeder R. (2010), New York, Human Cloning. Springs. Humana Press.
Johnson J. A. (2011).Human Cloning. Pennsylvania, Collingdale. DIANE Publishing.
Peacock, K. W. (2010). Biotechnology and genetic engineering. New York: Facts on File.
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