After researching about cloning and finding out what it is exactly and how it works, I understood that cloning is a process. It is used to create an exact genetic copy of another cell, tissue or an organism by taking the genetic information from one living thing and creating exact copies of it (Cloning: MedlinePlus). Researchers have found many interesting and amazing ways of cloning a variety of biological materials, yes even entire organisms! Cloning happens naturally via asexual reproduction. This happens in some plants an also on some single-celled organisms, prokaryotes, like bacteria.
We could also say that identical twins are clones that happen naturally because since they are produced when a fertilized egg splits, they carry almost identical DNA. But cloning also happens artificially, and the three types of it are reproductive cloning, gene cloning, and therapeutic cloning. How cloning is done currently Gene cloning Gene cloning is what creates exact copies of the segments of DNA. Researchers use this to make copies of genes that they wish to examine.
They insert the gene from one organism into the genetic material of a vector, which are carriers such as bacteria or virus, that are then placed under lab conditions that cause it to multiply and end up in the gene being copied several times.
Reproductive cloning Animals are cloned through reproductive cloning which is able to produce copies of entire animals. What researchers do is that they remove a mature somatic cell, body cells such as skin, nerve or blood cell from the animal they want to copy and then transfer its DNA and place it into an egg cell that had its own nucleus, containing its DNA, removed.
The egg later becomes a just developing embryo in the test tube and is later implanted into the womb of the animal. This results a female adult animal giving birth to an animal that has the exact same genetic make up as the animal that donated the somatic cell. The first mammal that was successfully cloned was a sheep named Dolly (Cloning Fact Sheet). Therapeutic cloning Finally, therapeutic cloning is used to substitute bad or injured tissues through the production of embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, the ones that are used in therapeutic cloning, are stem cells that come from embryos that are between three to five days old. These stem cells are pluripotent which is what I described earlier, they can renew themselves and divide into more stem cells or they also have the ability to become any type of cell that is found in the body (Mayo Clinic 2019). They are important in cloning because they have many functions and they have the ability to repair organs and bad tissues. Stem cells are important because they could help understand how diseases happen, test a drug’s effectiveness and safety, generate and replace cells with new healthy ones.
Five uses of cloning to humans There are several uses of cloning to humans and each of them has its own unique benefits. There are medicinal benefits in cloning that have the potential to benefit everyone. Cloning could help have an extensive amount of animals for study and that way decrease the time needed to make a transgenic animal model. Animal models are genetically engineered to carry mutations in their genes that carry diseases. Genetic engineering works with genes in order to make different versions of a specific organism. Genetic engineering alters the genes in a living organism to produce a genetically modified organisms with a new genotype. GMOs are any organisms such as animal, plant or microorganism whose genetic makeup have been changed or modified using genetic engineering or other types of technology (What is a GMO?). Genetic modification happens in many of the products we consume regularly. This could help researchers learn more and faster about diseases by experimenting on more animals. This has the potential to save human lives because if researchers now more about diseases and have the opportunity to experiment on more animals, they could help prevent human diseases. What could also help treat or stop diseases in humans is gene therapy.
Gene therapy is when the genes inside the body’s cells are altered in an effort to treat or stop a disease. Genes that do not work properly could cause a disease. Gene therapy could help replace a bad gene or add a new gene in order to try to cure a diseases or help fight it. Another use of cloning to humans is to make stem cells. Stem cells function as a repair system for the body. Stem cells generate all other cells that have specialized functions. They are able to divide and form daughter cells if they are under the necessary conditions. The daughter cells can then renew themselves and become new stem cells or become cells with specific functions, such as brain cells, bone cells, heart muscle cells, blood cells etc. Stem cells are crucial in our lives because they maintain, build and repair the body. This could help people that burned their skin, people that have brain damage etc. What stem cells do is a natural process, so this process can be manipulated for reparation. Transferring stem cells from person to person can have negative effects, and this is where cloning becomes beneficial because this could help create genetically identical stem cells of a particular individual (Why Clone?). This could really be an advance in medicine because they could even be used in the creation of whole body organs and be used when a person may need an organ transplant. Stems cells also have a benefit when it comes to diseases. Stem cells from a sick person could be cloned and that way be further examined to learn more about the particular sickness and find a treatment.
Cloning could also be used by humans and benefit them by reproducing a sick pet. The clone may have the same genes, but that does not necessarily mean that it will behave the same and do everything just like the original pet. It is more than just their genes, it is also their environment that shapes an animal or a person’s personality. On December 22, 2001 a kitten named CC was the first domestic pet ever to be cloned. But the one that was cloned did not end up having the same color as the original cat. This problem has to do with the X chromosome, the gene that helps a cat determine their color, that was shut off, this is called X-inactivation (Why Clone). Another use of cloning to humans will be that it could help couples with infertility. People who are not able to produce children in a natural way could create their own kids through human cloning and that way have the same genes (20 Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloning Humans 2019). Infertility has the potential to not be a problem anymore because a fetus would be able to grow outside of the woman’s body through cloning.
Another interesting use of cloning to humans is cloning livestock, such as pigs or cows, the animals that produce milk and meat. This is used to produce copies of the best animals in the farm and breed them. This does not only benefit the farmer, but humans too. Cloning livestock process in detail The process of cloning livestock is more advanced than all of the other techniques farmers use to reproduce their cattle and very beneficial. If a farmer has, for example, a dairy cow that is just perfect because she gets pregnant really easily, does not get sick often like all the others, gets perfectly suited with her environment, has no complications when giving birth, and produce millions of gallons of the best quality milk and then suddenly that cow is about to die or is at the end of her reproductive life the farmer could just clone it and that way have that cow forever! It would not only be beneficial for the farmers, but also to all of those people that are consuming the cows’ milk. The farmer could just stay with that cow’s offsprings and keep breeding those and getting milk from them; but they will not get the same results that their best cow gave them. So in order to guarantee that they will be just like the best cow, the only option they have is to copy that specific cow. This would be a lot quicker than just breeding and waiting for a cow to have all of those amazing qualities.
Farmers could also clone this animals to produce and be able to sell high quality lean meat faster than if just having a couple of animals. If a farmer only has one animal that produces meat that is very lean and tender, by cloning it they could have all of that same quality meat in a faster and more efficient way. This would provoke them to sell more and grow their business. This would benefit humans by having more meat that is high quality and this will allow meat markets and supermarkets to have more supply. When cloning animals, they are still born just like any other regular animal, they do not just appear, think of it like identical twins that were not born at the same time. They still share the same genes as the original animal. Cloning serves as a type of control for farmers, it gives them the ability to choose which traits they want their clone to have. This type of cloning uses a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. What scientists do is that they take an immature egg from the female animal and remove the nucleus from it. The nucleus is what contains the eggs genes, and by removing it, necessary materials for the beginning stages of embryo development are left behind. The nucleus or cell from the animal that has the traits the farmer wants to copy is then added. Later on, the nucleus combines with the ooplast, which are the eggs whose nucleus are removed and starts dividing and an embryo begins to form.
The embryo is then implanted in the uterus of a female animal and the clone is then born just like any regular animal (Medicine). What could go wrong with this is that the embryo could fail to develop correctly and may be flushed out of the uterus, it could also not implant properly, or the placenta may not form correctly causing the animal that is developing to not get the nutrients it needs. Other cons of this cloning are the amount of money that is required to do this. Not every cloning is successful and actually most of the time animal cloning is usually unsuccessful; and when it is successful it reduces genetic diversity for that type of animal. Cloned animals could experience health complications later in their life and have consequences on them and on humans that consume from them (Chief, 2018).
Another con is the growing concern on the similarities between stem cells and cancer cells because stem cells that are used during cloning could develop mutations that may lead to cancer. Ethically it could break up the idea of having an individual identity; since it may help with infertility, produce more meat or milk, and for business there is a debate on whether this should happen or not. One of the pros of cloning livestock is its ability to ease future food supply shortages. According to the United Nations, the planet may need food to support 20 billion people, which means cloning livestock animals will be very useful and very beneficial for our planet. A good thing about this is that according to The Food and Drug Administration, it is safe to eat food from cloned animals such as beef, or drinking milk and this could help improve human nutrition and offer more high quality meat or milk.