Iscloning justifiable? “Clones are geneticallyidentical individuals,” says Harry Griffin, PhD 1 .In 1885, cloningwas first ever demonstrated by Sir Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch.
At that time, heshowed that when two-celled sea urchin embryos are separated, they were stillable to grow into a complete sea urchin, meaning that a single embryo has itsown complete set of genetic instructions and is able to grow into an organism2. The research andexperiments of cloning carried on and was not publicly interested up untilDolly the sheep was created by somatic cell nuclear transfer. The nuclear of anegg cell is removed and another nucleus taken from the cell of anotherindividual is substituted into the egg cell. While embryonic cell is ready toactive any gene, an adult cell has to reset to an embryonic state. This processoften come undone, resulting in a failure in the development of the embryo3. As a result, the appearance of Dolly hasraised an international sensation and became a debatable topic worldwide. During the discussion between governments representativesin December 2001 held by the General Assembly of the United Nations, there wasgeneral agreement that the reproductive cloning of human beings should beprohibited by an international ban. However, the Universal Declaration on the Human Genomeand Human Rights, 1997 (UDHGHR) acknowledges that research on genetics couldhave profound potentials for improving the health quality of humankind.
4 P.B. Desai, anIndian epigraphist, once said, “Embryonic stem cells, which holds promise ofcure of any organ, is but a slow move towards immortality,” 5 andin May 15, 2013, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University reportedthat they have created embryonic stem cells through cloning 6. Scientistsused this process called therapeutic cloning which stem cells are stimulated todivide and grown in a Petri dish. Indeed,cloning can be used to make desired changes in the genetic makeup ofindividuals in order to introduce positive traits and to eliminate the negativeones. Human beings can take advantage of cloning as a backup system if theirbody organs malfunction and need to be replaced. For example, a new technologyhas allowed scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard MedicalSchool to grow a full-sized human heart from stem cells in the near future.
Theheart of the donor will be taken out of the body and placed inside a detergentsolution to remove organ cells that might cause an immune response in therecipient. Then, the scientists insert adult skin cells and turn them into stemcells. The heart will be infused with a nutrient solution and allowed to growbefore being set inside the recipient’s body 7. However, theresearch progress on therapeutic cloning in humans has been slow due to thetechnical challenges and ethical controversy.
Furthermore, researches on genetics might be highlybenefited from cloning technologies. “Discovering these measurable molecules oftoxicity, we hope to present other serious adverse reactions that are caused bytesting drugs in animals, with the hope of bringing safer drugs to patients.” saysGabriela Cezar, assistant professor of animal science at the University ofWisconsin-Madison. Human stem cell research is promising in testing the effectsof biologicals, chemicals, and drugs in the most relevant species – humans.Such studies could lead to fewer, less costly, and better designed humanclinical trials to achieve more specific diagnosis and more effective therapiesfor patients. However, the usage of embryonic stem cells for drug testing isstill a relatively new concept, and according to some scientists, moreresearches should be carried out before confirming that the method is reliable.8On the other hand, the question about the ethics of hasbeen raised and is constantly debated worldwide. The Director-General of theWorld Health Organization (WHO) considered human cloning as “ethicallyunacceptable as it would violate some of the basic principles which governmedically assisted reproduction.
These include respect for the dignity of thehuman being and the protection of the security of human genetic material” 9Many of the immediate condemnations of any possiblehuman cloning following Ian Wilmut’s cloning of an adult sheep claimed that itwould violate moral or human rights, which are the right to own an identity.According to Dr Dan W. Brock of Brown University, cloning would undermine oursense of individuality or uniqueness; destroy the valuable meaning of humanbeings and our “irreplaceable value”. Even with the same genes, twoindividuals, for example homozygous twins, are completely distinct and notidentical. A person’s traits, characteristics and life are not only the productof their genome but also their surroundings.
Every day, humans are in contactwith different chemicals surrounded us and some of which has altered thebehavior of our genes. For instance, the chemical called methyl floating aroundour body can attach itself to the DNA inhibit or deny the activity of a gene,blocking it from producing proteins. Other life events can bring about DNAmethylation such as diet, illnesses, ageing, smoking etc. A recent carried outby Professor Tim Spector, head of twin research at King’s College, London and his colleagues shown that identical twins have different tolerancesto pain and the genes which determined whether or not they get a disease areoften switched on in a twin and off in another. Although homozygous twins beginlife with the same genomes, over times differences in physical, personalcharacteristics will develop with distinct personal relationships, life historyand life choices.