Cloning is the production of a group of genetically identical organisms from a single individual. Cloning is widely used in horti-culture to produce plants with desirable traits; plants produced from cuttings or by grafting are examples of clones. Cloning also occurs in nature in organisms that reproduce asexually. Cloning in higher animals was first performed with frogs and salamanders, in the 1960’s. By the early 1980’s, it was being used with mammals, particularly livestock and laboratory mice. Cloning in mammals is performed under a high-powered microscope using microsurgical instruments.
The first step involves extracting the nucleus from a body cell of an embryo; the embryo is selected from a pregnant female who has previously borne offspring with desirable traits. The nucleus is inserted into a newly fertilized egg cell whose own nucleus has been removed. The fertilized egg with its new nucleus is placed in a culture dish for several days, until it develops into an embryo. The embryo is then inserted into the womb of another female (the surrogate mother), who eventually bears the offspring (Kass, 1998).
By taking a number of cells from the same donor embryo and using a number of surrogate mothers, it is possible to produce a large group of identical offspring. The cloning technique can also be used to create identical twins, doubling the number of offspring that any particular female can produce at one time. This study presents the arguments on both sides of cloning whether should it be legalized or not. II. Background The human body contains 100 trillion cells. Inside most cells is a nucleus that contains a complete set of the body’s blueprints.
Those blueprints are twisted into 46 packets called chromosomes. Unravel a chromosome, and you get the long, thread-like molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Within the DNA are the blueprints—called genes—for making proteins. The DNA molecule has a twisted, ladder-shaped structure (the famous double helix). The genetic code can be read in the rungs of the ladder. The code is spelled out by four chemicals: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cystosine (C), A pairs with T, and G pairs with C to form the rungs of the ladder. A small fragment of DNA is cut out of a chromosome.
That fragment is cloned to create millions of copies. The cloned fragments are divided into four special solutions, in which they begin to replicate (Baird, 2002). Each solution contains a chemical “fixer” that stops the process when a particular letter is reached. A color dye is used to stain the fragments. The partially reproduced fragments are dropped into gel-filled capillaries inside a sequencing machine: An electric charge pulls the fragments down the capillaries: bigger molecules move more slowly than small ones, sorting by size.
The sequence is read automatically by a laser as the colored fragments come out the end of the capillaries. Once the segments have been read, a computer puts them together by finding overlaps and matching adjacent pieces. This is complicated by the fact that similar sequences occur many times in many places (Coleman, 2002). Armed with the full sequence, scientists look for genes, which make up only about three percent of the genome. Once these are identified, researchers can figure out which ones make proteins that can cause disease or protect health. A. Playing Gods These things will not happen in a blink of an eye.
It will still take a generation, perhaps more, before all “secrets” can be revealed to human knowledge. In plain language, what the scientists Celera Genomics have done is sequence about 97% of the genome, and the remaining 150 million or so chemical letter—or base pairs—won’t be deciphered anytime soon (Robertson, 1994). At the course of this revelation, how do we see the balance of thoughts in a scale? Up to where is the boundary of ethics? A would-be mother of a “genetically-enhanced” child would argue, “Why would it be unethical to provide my child with the best possible chance for a healthy life?
Why can’t I give my child protective genes that other children get naturally? ” Yet the question of discrimination still persists. Would not rich people take advantage of what their wealth could give them? What would happen to Third World people who cannot afford to “enhance” their genes? Would not this mean survival of the “rich? ” III. Discussion The root word clone means “twig” in Greek. It denotes the practice of cutting a plant stuck in the soil in which the cut “twig” portion is able to grow into a new plant of the same genetic composition.
As is known in nonsexual reproduction, a clone is an identical duplicate. Cloning is thus understood as a technological process whereby multiple copies of genetically identical organisms or cells or individual genes are produced. Cloning is done by transplanting blasticepts from one embryo into an empty zona pellucida, or nuclei from the cells of one individual into enucleated oocytes (Hopkins, 1998). It has been nearly half a century since American biophysicist James Watson announced their discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic code.
And many incredible things haves happened since then. The human genome project was launched about a decade ago, an effort so complex and so broad in scope that only government had the financial and bureaucratic resources to pull it off-yet with such huge potential payoffs that virtually no resources should be spared. Today, private research centers and pharmaceutical companies have joined the bandwagon. They stand to make incalculable billions of dollars by turning genome research into new treatments for dizzying array of diseases.
And the companies that mange to get the information first and lock up what they find with patents—will profit the most. By the time the project would be completed, around the year 2003, science would at last have access to the “book of life”—the precise biochemical code for each of the 100,000 or so genes that largely determine every physical characteristic, in the human body (Hopkins, 1998). Once researchers knew that, they would be able to figure out exactly how each gene functions and, more importantly, how it malfunctions to trigger deadly illness.