Cloning Is the Production of Identical Genetic Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1554 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Genetics

Cloning is the production of identical genetic copies of cells or an individual. The process occurs naturally when a cell or organism reproduces asexually, through processes such as mitosis, binary fission, budding, sporulation, or parthenogenesis, or when genetically identical twins are produced naturally.

Even the process of horticultural grafting and cuttings are technically cloning as the resultant plant is a genetic copy of the original. However, the debate centering on cloning most often focuses on the cloning specifically of cell, tissue, organ, or an individual, performed by a deliberate human effort ("Cloning"). It is this type of cloning that holds the hopes of the medical future, and can positively affect a variety of other areas, despite the risks critics fear.

DNA cloning technology has been in existence for more than three decades, and is a common practice in molecular biology labs. The process is also known as recombinant DNA technology, molecular cloning and gene cloning and involves transferring a DNA fragment from one organism into a cloning vector, such as a virus or bacterial plasmid, which are the most often used for recombinant DNA experiments.

After the vector is introduced into suitable host cells, the recombinant DNA can then be reproduced (along with the host cell DNA) and harvested for further study in the laboratory. Once the bacteria multiply, the bacteria cells are killed with antibiotics and the DNA extracted for further study" ("Cloning").Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Cloning Is the Production of Identical Genetic Assignment

DNA cloning is typically the first stage of most genetic engineering experiments. Genetic engineering efforts, such as gene pharming, are necessary to make human proteins, drugs, and other compounds that are used in medicinal applications. Gene pharming is used to make common compounds such as insulin and growth hormones, used by thousands. Transgenic animals are also created through the genetic engineering process in order for researchers to further study disease, allowing them to experiment on animals and not on human subjects ("Cloning"). Thanks to this cloning process, sufficient numbers of animal subjects can be created to effectively and efficiently create treatments and cures, far more so than should scientists have to rely on naturally occurring diseased subjects. Diseases would go untreated as drugs and other medicinal compounds could not be made, without the use of cloning, and many new disease treatments and cures would not be developed, especially for rarer diseases.

Non-medicinal rewards are also reaped thanks to cloning. Transgenic goats can produce the dragline form of spider silk, the strongest material known, being twice as strong as Kevlar. Farming this material through the natural producers, spiders, is inefficient, due to the aggressive nature of the spiders. These highly territorial spiders often eat each other. However, by splicing the spider DNA into the mammary gland tissues, the goats are able to produce the silk proteins in their milk, which can then be spun into a fine thread ("Cloning"). Whether this superior thread is woven into bulletproof vests to protect law enforcement or America's soldiers, or used in surgery, without cloning, it simply wouldn't be economically feasible to mass produce the material.

Cloning of cells is the next level up from DNA cloning. This type of cloning is necessary for therapeutic purposes. Cell cloning allows the production of cells, tissues, or organs that are a perfect match for their recipient, awaiting the transplant. Without it, many patients would not be successfully treated, and many more would never receive the cure for debilitating diseases and conditions that they suffer from. The most significant controversy usually focuses on the use of human embryonic stem cells, where the nucleus of an egg cell is removed and replaced by the nucleus of the body cell from the intended recipient; it is then allowed to grow into the embryo stage where stem cells, which can be developed into any type of cell, are extracted.

In 2002, the first cloned kidney organ was successfully transplanted into a cow and just this year, embryonic stem cells were used to successfully treat sickle cell anemia in mice, by correcting the genetic mutation that causes the life-threatening disease ("Cloning"). Once again, without cloning, none of this would be possible. Cloning is the best technology available to cure diseases at the genetic level ("After Dolly"), as seen with the recent sickle-cell anemia developments.

As Hopkins notes, embryo cloning should be allowed, providing the research is properly regulated. The benefits it could bring to controlling and curing severe illnesses, where at present there is no hope, far outweigh any arguments about safety and ethics. Is it ethical not to help someone who is suffering from a disease? If the cells from one embryo can help treat or even cure serious diseases that are killing people every day, isn't it worth trying?... Putting the 'right' of a handful of embryonic cells above that of the millions of humans who could benefit does not weigh up.

It is an evolutionary step for humankind, where eventually stem cells should be self-replicating, and the need for embryonic and fetal tissue will no longer be necessary.

The scientist who headed up the team that created Dolly the first cloned sheep, Dr. Ian Wilmut, agrees that even human cloning's possible benefits far out when any possible risks or misguided concerns about immorality. As an example of these powerful possibilities, Dr. Wilmut uses a couple who fear passing a genetic disease onto their offspring. In this instance, an embryo could be produced through in vitro fertilization, and then that embryo would be screened for the genetic disease. Using a genetic engineering technique, stem cells from the embryo would be collected and using Zwake and Thomson's technique, the genetic disease could be corrected. The then disease-free steam cell nucleus would be placed in an egg and allowed to develop into a new embryo that would then be implanted into the mother's womb. This embryo would be a clone of the original embryo, yet without the genetic flaw, allowing parents to conceive a child, with the genetic makeup of both parents, just like a naturally conceived child, but would do away with the fear of genetically transferable diseases.

Cloning can also be used for applications other than those that directly affect humans. Endangered species are another category that can benefit from cloning technology, and further supports the argument that this is valuable technology. In 2004, male and female clones of African wildcats were successfully mated to produce eight kittens, the first time wild species clones had been bred. This project was sponsored by the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans ("Clones Cloning Around") and is only the first step in a technology that could save some of the world's most Endangered species. Hundreds of endangered species could be saved by this technology, perhaps brought to a point where they could be reintroduced into the wild.

Scientific research is protected under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and this includes cloning. As Cantrell notes, "There is domestic case law and international precedent to support scientists' freedom of scientific inquiry. At least in the U.S., a complete ban on [cloning] research would face an uphill constitutional battle in the courts" (73). It is a basic freedom of expression that is further supported by the 1966 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

In the end, cloning is a technology that holds too many benefits to be ignored. Currently so much of the world from medicinal product creation to genetically engineered foods relies on cloning technology. Animal testing has just begun to show the possibilities when it comes to conquering disease on the genetic level, with the growth of recipient organs and correcting of diseases by altering genetics. Superior materials can be produced now, thanks to cloning. And, even endangered animals can be assisted thanks to cloning. This is only the beginning. Certainly there are morality issues… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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