Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cloning--A to Z of Cloning

What is Cloning

There has been much talk about animal cloning and the effects of cloning on humans in recent years but exactly what is cloning? When people refer to cloning they are referring to only one of the various types of cloning and that is the creation of an identical copy of a life form or organ which is known as reproductive cloning in the scientific world. This is one of the types of cloning that has much potential to help humans to recover more quickly from disease and even eliminate it in some instances through organ reproduction and implantation. In addition to this animal cloning has the potential to add to the stores of food that humans can produce an give to those who do not have much food to eat. Though these progresses are most likely to be seen many years in the future the act of cloning animals and organisms has already been realized.

Many people have noted the sheep named Dolly who was successfully cloned in 1997 but this was not the first animal that was successfully cloned. In the early 1950’s tadpoles were the first animals cloned in a lab and every since cloning technology has been developed to be more efficient making human cloning a possibility for the future. When it comes to human cloning many people are opposed to this because they may think that it is personally immoral and against the morals of religion as well. In addition to this many scientists that have successfully engaged in animal cloning have noticed complications and illnesses that are present in the cloned species. For example complications such as cancer and a lower life expectancy were realized in the cloned sheep dolly even though much of the functions of this animal were identical to the sheep she was cloned from

Reproductive Cloning Process

When people think of human cloning and animal cloning they are usually thinking about one of the more popular types of cloning called reproductive cloning. Reproductive cloning has the potential to help generate donor organs for humans as well as other human tissue in the future though the reproductive cloning process has traditionally been used to generate animals that have the same nuclear DNA molecules as an already existing animal without the process of birthing. One well known example of reproductive cloning is when the sheep Dolly was cloned in 1997. Through somatic cell nuclear transfer the cloning of Dolly was possible. This process involves the transfer of DNA molecules from the nucleus of an adult animal cell to an animal egg that has a removed nucleus. The egg that has been reconstructed using the donor cell’s DNA then must be treated with some chemicals to stimulate the cell’s division and once the cell grows enough it is then put inside the uterus of a suitable female host until birth occurs. This is how the animals that have been cloned throughout history have been born and this is how Dolly the sheep was born as well.

Many people may think that the cloning process gives birth to completely identical clones of a donor animal but this is not true. The clones that come from the reproductive cloning process have differences which are interesting to note. In regards to this only the chromosomal DNA is a match to the donor. In addition to this some of the genetic materials that are found in the clone come from the actual egg that it was birthed from with animal cloning. This is how it would work with human cloning as well. The Mitochondria and the cytoplasm of the donor egg serve as power sources for the clone’s cells and these parts of the egg also have their own DNA.

Dolly the Sheep

In the mid 1990s, many people thought of cloning as only being part of science fiction stories and movies. However, the success of a Scottish team from the Roslin Institute brought the idea to reality with the introduction of Dolly the Sheep, an animal that was the first mammal to be successfully cloned. The somatic cell transfer that enabled the creation was a new process that had yet to find success with complex types of animals. The specific cell used for the cloned sheep was from the mammary gland of an adult sheep. It is because of this somewhat strange origin that the sheep received the name of Dolly, which was a reference to Dolly Parton, a popular entertainer that is famous for the size of her breasts.

The birth of Dolly the Sheep took place in 1996 and the animal lived for a total of seven years. During her life, she stayed at the Roslin Institute to be observed by the researchers responsible for her creation. Most of her life was typical for a sheep and she had a total of 6 offspring that were healthy. While Dolly the Sheep was five years old, she started having problems with arthritis, a condition that happens on a frequent basis with sheep. Drugs were given to the sheep to control the inflammation and the condition disappeared.

While the emergence of Dolly the Sheep is clearly a step towards cloning humans and other complex mammals, there have been few larger animals that have had successful cloning experiments completed. Of these, some cloned animals like bulls and other sheep varieties responded well to the process, but many other species were failures. The developer of the somatic cell transfer method that was used to create Dolly has said that the procedure will probably never work for human cloning in the future.

Stem Cell Research

Although many people have a superficial understanding of the concept of human cloning and the issue of stem cell research, the technical aspect of this process is largely ignored. While the reproductive side of cloning has drawn a lot of criticism by both industry experts and other organizations, the medical use of therapeutic cloning may be one area where the technology can be used in a positive manner. To learn more about the subject, a person should start with researching stem cell research and how the stem cells are used in the therapeutic cloning process.

Basically, stem cells are found in every living organism. These are the base level cells that are able to replicate themselves and form more complex structures, such as body organs in a human. Mammals have two types of stem cells, embryonic and adult models. The former group is responsible for developing a mammal to a mature state and the secondary group is responsible for repairing the body after maturity has been reached. Because researchers are still learning about stem cell roles in the body, it is thought that the introduction of these cells could be used to treat a wide variety of medical ailments by pushing the body to repair itself.

In fact, there are already some uses of stem cells that are recognized as beneficial to a patient. When a person has leukemia, one of the more advanced treatments is a transplant of bone marrow that helps slow the debilitating condition of the person. Researchers believe that the cultivation of stem cells could give more possible treatments to those patients that have suffered a stroke, have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or a number of different disorders and problems. Still, not everyone agrees on the issue of stem cell research and many that are against the study argue that it could easily cause cancer in patients. Until more research has been done on this sensitive topic, the controversy will continue.

Cloning- Ethical Issues

The latest technological developments in the field of bio engineering has allowed specialist to proceed with the successful cloning of organisms. Bioengineering has certainly opened doors to science that people have never considered before but this has also come with attached controversy. There are many ethical issues of cloning that are being discussed nowadays and here one can learn more about them.

Most of the ethical issues of cloning be it in animals or humans have been raised by the Catholic Church, as well as other religious organizations. They all strongly oppose cloning as according to the religious belief life begins at conception and that life cannot be created artificially but from the unity of a man and female. At the same time, the church together with the other religious organizations argue against therapeutic cloning as well because, as mentioned above, they are guided by the idea that life starts at the conception and once the embryo exists it must be treated as a person, and thus destroying embryos and using them only for the purpose of research is not consistent with the religious view on the issue.

On the other hand, specialists are mostly arguing for genetic cloning and more openly for therapeutic cloning. Some, such as the bioethicist Gregory Pence claim that criminalizing attempts to clone humans is not a desirable thing in such a developed society. Another issue is however linked to the use of cloning of animals to produce meat. In 2006 the US government approved the consumption of meat from cloned animals, a decision that raised significant objections especially with regards to the potential risks associated with cloning and which could be transmitted through ingested animal products. Yet, despite all these arguments it is clear that specialists will at least continue to explore the possibilities that science can offer them.

Cloning Extinct Species

Cloning is one of the most exciting developments of bioengineering as it allows specialists to create organisms as never would have envisaged before, or it allows them to be the greatest scientists ever. However, regardless of all the controversy that exists around cloning the truth is that this technological advancement could be used for the benefit of individuals and humanity as a whole and there are several ways in which to do this. Here one can learn more about the possibility to revive extinct species of animals with the help of animal cloning.

Cloning animals is a dream came true for many specialists and which succeeded for the first time in the 1990s with the well known Dolly the sheep cloning. This was only the proof that animal cloning can be potentially used in the reconstruction of function DNA from extinct species and thus the potential proof that a daydream of many scientists could come true. One has certainly heard about the potential implications of cloning extinct species and one of the best examples is Jurassic Park, the movie which dramatized the whole issue. Yet, in real life scientists have not attempted to revive the dinosaurs but they did so in the case of the Woolly Mammoth. These attempts never succeeded however since extracting DNA from frozen organism was highly unsuccessful. Other such attempts, more or less successful took place in 2001 when a cow gave birth to a gaur, endangered Asian species but which died within few days. Moreover, a bateng had been cloned in 2003 as well as three African wildcats and these have given scientists hope that they might revive extinct species as well.

In 2002, geneticists from an Australian museum had attempted to cloning extinct species, specifically the Tasmanian tiger, a species that had been extinct for about 65 previous years. After 3 years later however the museum announced stopping the procedures as the DNA was visibly degraded to an extent it could not be successfully used in cloning extinct species.

Alzheimer's Disease Vaccine On Sight

Thanks to brilliant efforts in medical research and bio engineering, an Alzheimer vaccine could be available by the year 2013. Although it is not expected to fully cure Alzheimer's Disease altogether, experts predict that it will be able to stop the disease on its tracks and even reverse the damage suffered by the brain in certain cases. This possible Alzheimer's treatment would be considered to be, without a doubt, one of the major breakthroughs of medical science of the last decade.

This main component of the Alzheimer vaccine is Bapineuzumab, a fully humanized monoclonal antibody which counters the beta amyloid protein blamed for this condition. Currently, the Alzheimer vaccine is being tested on 10,000 patients world-wide, and encouraging results are expected as clinical test results begin to be obtained. There are approximately 26 million patients with AD around the world, a staggering figure that makes research for an Alzheimer vaccine a most urgent issue. The progression and degradation of the cognitive function of a person who suffers from this disease is, to say the least, a traumatic process which brutally victimizes not only the AD sufferer, but also his or her family as they have to witness the relentless decline of their loved one as the disease progresses.

Because of its ability to stop the disease on the spot, this may be the first drug of its kind as far as AD is concerned.

The Biological Engineering

Bioengineering also known as Biological engineering is the application of methods and concepts of mathematics, computer science, physics and chemistry to solve the problems in life science. Bioengineering uses the same mathematical and physical sciences as engineering to develop body of knowledge called Molecular biology, which studies many aspects of living organisms.

Bioengineering is a science discipline that was founded base on biological sciences. One of its important applications is to analyzed and solve problems related to the health of humans. Bio engineering roots are determined from being pure biology. This application utilizes the methods of relying on reductionist that approaches to identify and the organization of the fundamental units which are integrated to generate something new.

Bioengineering has a base that applies the principles of engineering to a large size range of systems and complexities that range from the molecular level such as biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, microbiology, cytology, protein chemistry, neurobiology, etc. A biological engineer is the individual who uses the principles of biology and usage of the tools. Heinz Wolf was a British broadcaster and scientist who coined the word Bioengineering on 1954.

Drug Discovery and Optimization

New drug discovery through Modern Bio engineering methods aims at dealing with new molecular targets, identifying and developing healthier and safer therapeutic drugs, as well as introducing preventive and personalized medicinal alternatives.

In the last decade or so, scientists have seen a substantial increase in the amount of biological information from such sources as the Human Genome Project, for instance, which has provided the scientific community with a treasure trove of data derived from 30,000 to 40,000 different genes and led to new drug discovery methods.

This integrated approach to drug discovery and optimization has led to more specialized and personalized alternatives and solutions to health issues according to the specific demands made by specific segments of society, or group of individuals.

In the future, it is expected that new drug discovery through bio engineering will develop customized medications perfectly fit for each one of us on an individual basis, specifically satisfying our most intimate and particular needs.

The Human Cloning Debate

In a case of the future becoming the present, one of the most pressing scientific concerns of the day has to do with human cloning and how it might be achieved. While identical twins are a form of cloning, much of the debate centers around the use of stem cell research to create a new person using a single cell from a host. This is often called artificial human cloning and men have thought seriously about the potential for such an operation for over half a century. Joshua Lederberg was one of the pioneers of human cloning in the 1960s and formed one side of the debate about the ethics of cloning with James D. Watson heading the opposition.

There are actually two main types of cloning that have been debated. The first is called therapeutic cloning and refers to the process of using mature adult cells from a human body that have been replicated for use in other medical concerns. This type of human cloning is being researched now and may have a use in future medical treatments. The other type of cloning is called reproductive cloning and bears more of a resemblance to the common idea of creating a person from a single cell. Many countries of the world have outlawed this type of human cloning and there have been no successful experiments of this type.

In the United States, the debate over the ethics of cloning has not yielded any laws or legislation relating to the practice. The federal government has had laws on the table several times that would ban both therapeutic and reproductive types of cloning but they have never passed the Senate. While the federal government has not been able to come up with a consensus about the cloning issue, a total of thirteen states have outlawed reproductive cloning and others have limited the experiments to only private organizations.

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