HUMAN CLONING

HUMAN CLONING right or wrong?
Never since Galileo’s put forward his model of a world, where planets rotate around the sun, has there been such controversy around a scientific issue, as that surrounding Human Cloning. Despite the UN’s decision on Human Cloning on 8/3/2005, asking countries “to adopt all measures necessary to prohibit all forms of human cloning in as much as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life” , the world remains in disagreement about this issue. This report attempts to examine the various aspects in relation to the technical and ethical issues relation to human cloning.
Introduction
For over many years, the cloning of living beings has been only an aspect of science fiction. Despite the constant display of cloning within the media in movies, magazines and books which are based on the creation of humans from cloning, their scientific credibility has been dismissed by the general public. The creation of life through cloning was often seen as a mere fantasy that scientists were trying to achieve.

Now scientists have cloned animals, they are even closer to discovering how create human life through cloning something that was once considered a complete and utter myth. Although scientists have not perfected the cloning of many animals for instance dolly the sheep who died at and early age from of lung cancer and other complications. This raises a number of ethical issues leaving many unanswered questions such as Is human cloning ethically right?, Should it be allowed?, What are the possible benefits and consequences that may arise from Human cloning?, How would these new clones be accepted in society and Are scientists trying to play the role of God by interfering with nature?
In this case study I shall touch upon what is cloning?, Why it matters?, What are peoples views on cloning?, How are these people influenced and what they are influenced by? The purpose of this case study is to present the facts, recent statistics and current views on human cloning. The case study shall challenge the ethics behind human cloning and present a balanced argument stating the possible consequences and benefits that may arise from human cloning. Ultimately I shall come to a conclusion on whether human cloning is ethically right by carefully balancing the scientific data provided and closely assessing socio-economic factors which could be affected.

he subject of human cloning has been chosen for this case study because it is regarded as highly controversial, it is an appealing and a captivating issue that is widely debated by many governmental and religious groups. In addition the advances in the growing industry of science and technology have led us to discuss the potential powers that human cloning may in bring in the future such as cures to diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Scientific Theory
Cloning is the process of genetically creating an identical copy of an organism. When we think of the word cloning, it tends to make us think of extremely mad scientists, with yellow teeth and the urge to do the unthinkable. Although cloning may have many advantages in store such as curing diseases, there also different types of cloning I will be speaking about this soon. There are three main types of cloning:-

1. Reproductive Cloning
Technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology. In a process called “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (SCNT), scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg whose nucleus, and thus its genetic material, has been removed. The reconstructed egg containing the DNA from a donor cell must be treated with chemicals or electric current in order to stimulate cell division. Once the cloned embryo reaches a suitable stage, it is transferred to the uterus of a female host where it continues to develop until birth.

2. Therapeutic Cloning
Also called “embryo cloning,” is the production of human embryos for use in research. The goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease. Stem cells are important to biomedical researchers because they can be used to generate virtually any type of specialized cell in the human body. Stem cells are extracted from the egg after it has divided for 5 days. The egg at this stage of development is called a blastocyst. The extraction process destroys the embryo, which raises a variety of ethical concerns. Many researchers hope that one day stem cells can be used to serve as replacement cells to treat heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases.

3. DNA Cloning
DNA to be cloned is cut into fragments by the restriction enzymes. Such enzymes occur naturally in some bacteria, where they stop viral reproduction by cutting up viral DNA. They restrict the growth of viruses and hence the name. The fragment of DNA is inserted into a vector by DNA ligase, which is another bacterial enzyme that seals any breaks in a DNA molecule.
The most common vector is plasmid, which is a small ring of DNA removed from bacteria. Gene splicing is complete when a recombinant DNA (DNA containing fragments from two or more different sources) has been prepared. After the recombined plasmid is taken up by a host cell, cloning is achieved when the host cell and the recombinant DNA of the plasmid reproduce either the cloned gene or a protein product (produced by the gene).

How does human cloning work
One common method scientists may use to clone humans is, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), this method was used to clone the famous Dolly the sheep. SCNT begins when doctors take the egg from a donor and remove the nucleus of the egg, creating an enucleated egg. A cell, which contains DNA, is then taken from the person who is being cloned. The enucleated egg is then fused together with the cloning subject’s cell using electricity. This creates an embryo, which is implanted into a surrogate mother through in vitro fertilization (IVF). If the procedure is successful, then the surrogate mother will give birth to a baby that is a clone of the cloning subject at the end of a normal development period. The success rate is only about one or two out of 100 embryos. This is why it took 277 attempts to create Dolly.

Dolly the sheep was famous for being the first ever mammal cloned from an adult cell; previous clones have been from embryo cells. She was first created in the year 1996 July 5th more than a decade ago. Dolly was cloned by a team from the Roslin institute in Scotland. The team was lead by Professor Ian Wilmut who intended to take on this mighty challenge. This has been regarded as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in history. Dr Ian Wilmit embryologist said “It will enable us to study genetic diseases for which there is presently no cure”.
Although this breakthrough has also raised moral dilemmas and along with fears that this technique could be used to clone humans. Dr Ian Wilmut made a bold statement by describing Human cloning as “repugnant and Illegal”. Unfortunately, in 2003 Dolly was so ill dolly she had to be put down after a veterinary exam showed progressive lung disease and a number of other complications. Dolly’s body has been preserved in the national museum of Scotland.
This cloning technique also proved to be extremely inefficient as it took “277” eggs in an attempt to clone dolly the sheep. This also raises another question whether it would be ethical to sacrifice that many human embryos just for one life. Who are we to decide who shall die and who lives? but isn’t everyone entitled to a second chance? And how many human embryos will have to be sacrificed if we want to clone one?

How was Dolly the Sheep Cloned?
The following diagram shows the process that was used to clone Dolly the sheep. It is also one of the techniques used for cloning animals.
First, a cell (the donor cell) was selected from the udder cells of a Finn Dorset sheep to provide the genetic information for the clone. For this experiment, the researchers allowed the cell to divide and form a culture in vitro, or outside of an animal. This produced multiple copies of the same nucleus. This step only becomes useful when the DNA is altered, such as in the case of Dolly, because then the changes can be studied to make sure that they have taken effect.
The donor cell is grown in a Petri/culture dish.
A donor cell was taken from the culture and then starved in a mixture which had only enough nutrients to keep the cell alive.
This culture dish barely has enough nutrients to keep the cell alive.

This caused the cell to begin shutting down all active genes and enter the G0 stage. The egg cell of a Blackface ewe was then enucleated and placed next to the donor cell. One to eight hours after the removal of the egg cell, an electric pulse was used to fuse the two cells together and, at the same time, activate the development of an embryo.
The enucleated egg cell and the mammary cell are fusing together.
This technique for replicates the activation provided by sperm is not completely correct, since only a few electrically activated cells survive long enough to produce an embryo.
If the embryo survives, it is allowed to grow for about six days, incubating in a sheep’s oviduct. It has been found that cells placed in oviducts early in their development are much more likely to survive than those incubated in the lab.

Finally, the embryo is placed into the uterus of a surrogate mother ewe. That ewe then carries the clone until it is ready to give birth. Assuming nothing goes wrong, an exact copy of the donor animal is born.
This newborn sheep has all of the same characteristics of a normal newborn sheep.





In the weeks following its mid-May release, I found myself, in public and print, issuing wrong-headed disclaimers and qualifications about my novel, The Bradbury Report. I was worried that my concept, cloning (a relatively 'high' concept), might subsume everything else, i.e. the more important stuff, I meant to do in the book. I expressed concern that the word 'cloning' used in any way connected to my novel - this was, of course, inevitable - would mark it, misleadingly, as science fiction. I said that before the moment of the book's conception, I'd had no special interest in the issue of human cloning, that I knew pretty much only what every reasonably sentient non-expert might know. I was at great pains to point out I was neither scientist nor trained ethicist, and that my interest in human cloning was a novelist's interest.

In my mind and heart, The Bradbury Report remains, first, a story about doomed love(s). But it would be disingenuous and disloyal to deny that, willy or nilly, by virtue of its most conspicuous subject, my novel, in the ways a novel can, engages, participates in, the debate about human cloning. I see my own diffidence, post-publication, and I am dismayed.

In any tolerably enlightened discussion of human cloning, a hopeful distinction now is made between therapeutic and reproductive cloning, with virtually all the current ethical and political debate about the former. Therapeutic cloning entails the production of, or the use of already existing, human embryos, from which are harvested stem cells for use in research on, and potentially in, the treatment of disease. When it is perfected, reproductive cloning will be used to create a human "copy" with essentially the identical DNA as its human "original." My novel proceeds on the assumption that human reproductive cloning will not only soon be possible (may, indeed, already be possible), but, precisely because it will be possible, and because it could be used to satisfy a range of perceived needs, and because of the enormous profit for any entity that could satisfy those needs, reproductive cloning is inevitable.

George W. Bush is well known to be opposed to both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Barack Obama, a few days after his inauguration, lifted Bush's interdiction on therapeutic cloning, but categorically ruled out reproductive cloning, calling it "dangerous" and "profoundly wrong," asserting that it "has no place in our society or any society." The international community is divided on the subject of therapeutic cloning, but in broad, if not universal agreement about reproductive cloning. (In The Bradbury Report, the United States, which, for good or ill, is not unused to standing alone on difficult issues, is alone among civilized nations in sanctioning reproductive cloning.)

In my novel the clones are harvested for spare parts, an inarguably obscene and arguably unlikely future. It is reassuring, I'd add naive, to think that progress made in stem cell research on the prevention and treatment of disease will render superfluous, unwanted, all further work in reproductive cloning. My guess - notwithstanding the version of the future I posit in The Bradbury Report - is that it will not, finally, be medical need that drives us to clone human beings. Here's a sample of what might be offered you, for a fee, by your local practitioner:

Narcissism run amuck - You could have yourself cloned, and raise yourself from birth. You could do this more than once. Your clone, when he came of age, could have himself cloned And so on. Multiple demi-generations of you. Perpetuation not of your line, but of your self.

Positive eugenics - You could have and raise as your child - according to what you prize most, to the cast and measure of your vanity - Brad Pitt and/or Angelina Jolie; Kobe Bryant and/or Derek Jeter and/or O.J. Simpson; Barack Obama and/or George W. Bush and/or Sarah Palin; Phillip Roth and/or Don DeLillo or, if you were strapped for funds, me. Any combination of the above. So could your neighbors. When you have a choice, why not get the very best child? Why want the child you get, when you can get the child you want?

Death, thou shalt die - You could replace loved ones who are deceased, or otherwise unrecognizable. You could have and raise the identical twin of your dead child. You could have and raise from infancy your dead father or mother or spouse, or anyone else whose loss you grieve.

It is neither, I think, alarmist nor too soon to expand the debate. It is not too soon to ask: What form or forms will the practice of human reproductive cloning take? What purposes will it serve; what needs will it satisfy? To what degree will it be regulated, and by whom? What will the ramifications be? For us 'originals?' For the clones? For the self? For the family? For society? For the species (because it is asexual reproduction, cloning subverts diversity)? For what we might one day mean when we talk about love?

It is about love, amidst the ruins of human cloning, that in The Bradbury Report I am most interested.

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