Cloning, one of nature’s and science’s greatest mystery, is becoming unraveled through our society’s technological advances. What was widely known as just science fiction decades ago, such as Jurassic Park in bringing back fossils of Dinosaurs or replicating an army of clones in the movie Star Wars is now becoming a reality more than ever before. Cloning is making an identical copy of, replicate, and or propagate (an organism or cell) as a clone. (Webster &Webster) It is from one parent resulting in identical cells. Scientifically speaking, one cell could be replicated, as well as organs, organisms, animals and possibly humans.
English embryologist Ian Wilmut made the idea possible, with the world’s first cloned mammal; Dolly the sheep. To create Dolly researchers needed: 1 somatic diploid donor cell, 1 unfertilized recipient egg with the nucleus removed, 1 electric shock (nuclear transfer) to fuse the them together, and 1 surrogate mother. However, it was very a difficult process it took about 277 cell fusions, 29 early embryos and thirteen surrogate mothers. It only took with the success of mammal cloning, that has a made a significant impact on cloning and science today. Since Dolly’s significance there were many advances made through cloning mice, dogs, cats, frogs, and livestock.
Since Dolly’s implication, scientists had many predictions of what can occur next since cloning mammals was possible. Dolly was the first example of taking an adult cell and getting an adult, that meant you could re-program an adult cell nucleus back to an embryonic stage. Robin Lovell Badge, head of Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute of London (2016) The success led to amazing predictions: human cloning, disease preventions, and rebirth of the deceased. Dolly’s impact imprinted on many scientists, stem cell biologist Shinya Yamanaka said that Dolly’s cloning had motivated him to begin developing stem cells derived from adult cells which he accomplished, he also proved that nuclear programming is possible in mammals. The imprint didn’t end there, many scientist were inspired of what could be discovered next.
The possibilities of cloning range from medical uses, personal uses, and agricultural, livestock improvement to restore and save endangered species. The most controversial debate on cloning would be replicating humans. Wilmut believes that cloning humans is possible, however he does not approve of the idea. Just because it may now work in the sense of producing offspring doesn’t mean to say we should do it, he says. The likelihood is you would get pregnancy losses and abnormal births. He also states that some of the clones he created after Dolly faced major health problems and was appalled by this experience. Wilmut wouldn’t want to have the same experience with humans, he ultimately believes that it would be far more cruel if done with humans and that there is less of a need to because of recent advances in gene-editing technology. In the United States, human cloning laws are a very ambiguous and grey area due to political and scientific controversies. Although there are no federal law explicitly illegalizing human cloning, there are there are no federal laws regarding human cloning.
Since there is the possibility of human cloning many wonder about the possibility of bringing back extinct creatures. In 2013, there was a discovery of well- preserved wooly mammoths which sparked an interest to researchers who want to understand how mammoths lived, died, and bring them back to life. The idea of bringing back a wooly mammoth back to life includes: DNA, egg cell, and birthing mother. Researchers can still get DNA from tissue and fossils from organisms from 10,000 years ago to 100,000, this is how the Wooly Mammoth is still an active process. However, although researchers have the DNA of a wooly mammoth it is not perfect. DNA degrades over time and has a half-life of 521 years, meaning scientists would have to fix the DNA before they can start cloning the mammal. With that being said, researchers turned to Precise Genome Editing in which they use CRISPR Cas 9 which is an editing tool for DNA which is able to go through millions of strands of DNA, locate a specific genome and remove or add to it. In de-extincting the mammoth scientists are using the DNA of an Asian elephant and replacing parts with a mammoth’s DNA to make a mammophant Today we have, cloning technology, elephant and mammoth DNA. Scientists can edit together and the plan is to try to artificially inseminate an Asian Elephant mom to carry out the baby. The entire idea of de-extinction which by definition is bringing back a whole species is still an active ongoing process today.
De-extinction may be an active ongoing process today, however cloning deceased pets is possible today at a bio-tech lab called in South Korea called Sooam. Sooam was founded by veterinarian and researcher Woo Suk Hwang. Hwang was convicted of stealing research funds and illegally purchasing human eggs for his research, he was also expelled from his academic institution and still faces criminal charges. Sooam Bio-Tech Lab are still active today, dog lovers can technically revive and clone their dogs for $100,000. According to Sooam Biotech’s website the cloning technology today is possible at Sooam for any dog no matter its, age, size, and breed. They have claimed that they not only clone animals, but they also heal broken hearts. Sooam has cloned over 1,000 dogs and has step by step instructions in how to preserve you deceased dog’s cells. Soonam promises a speedy replacement, if the cells from the dead dog are not compromised. Celebrities such as Barbara Streisand, Diane Furstenburg, and Simon Cowell have cloned their pets.
The process used to clone these dogs are the same used to close Dolly, somatic cell nuclear transfer. The dog must be either be alive or has been dead for over 5 days, the cells are taken from the dog and the nucleus is removed. Next, an egg cell from a donor pet is obtained and the egg cell is given an electric shock to stimulate division. Finally, after a few days the developing embryo is placed back in the surrogate mother. Cloning deceased pets are possible today, however many are opposed to the idea, mainly due to the recognition how environmental factors affect behavior. The genetic material of the clone may be the same, but the personality traits and habits may vary. A clone may replicate its genome however it won’t be the same dog because it won’t have the same life therefore will have different characteristics and customs.
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