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Is
cloning justifiable?

 

“Clones are genetically
identical individuals,” says Harry Griffin, PhD 1 .In 1885, cloning
was first ever demonstrated by Sir Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch. At that time, he
showed that when two-celled sea urchin embryos are separated, they were still
able to grow into a complete sea urchin, meaning that a single embryo has its
own complete set of genetic instructions and is able to grow into an organism
2.  The research and
experiments of cloning carried on and was not publicly interested up until
Dolly the sheep was created by somatic cell nuclear transfer. The nuclear of an
egg cell is removed and another nucleus taken from the cell of another
individual is substituted into the egg cell. While embryonic cell is ready to
active any gene, an adult cell has to reset to an embryonic state. This process
often come undone, resulting in a failure in the development of the embryo3.  As a result, the appearance of Dolly has
raised an international sensation and became a debatable topic worldwide.

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During the discussion between governments representatives
in December 2001 held by the General Assembly of the United Nations, there was
general agreement that the reproductive cloning of human beings should be
prohibited by an international ban. However, the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome
and Human Rights, 1997 (UDHGHR) acknowledges that research on genetics could
have profound potentials for improving the health quality of humankind. 4

 P.B. Desai, an
Indian epigraphist, once said, “Embryonic stem cells, which holds promise of
cure of any organ, is but a slow move towards immortality,” 5 and
in May 15, 2013, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University reported
that they have created embryonic stem cells through cloning 6. Scientists
used this process called therapeutic cloning which stem cells are stimulated to
divide and grown in a Petri dish.  Indeed,
cloning can be used to make desired changes in the genetic makeup of
individuals in order to introduce positive traits and to eliminate the negative
ones. Human beings can take advantage of cloning as a backup system if their
body organs malfunction and need to be replaced. For example, a new technology
has allowed scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical
School to grow a full-sized human heart from stem cells in the near future. The
heart of the donor will be taken out of the body and placed inside a detergent
solution to remove organ cells that might cause an immune response in the
recipient. Then, the scientists insert adult skin cells and turn them into stem
cells. The heart will be infused with a nutrient solution and allowed to grow
before being set inside the recipient’s body 7. However, the
research progress on therapeutic cloning in humans has been slow due to the
technical challenges and ethical controversy.

Furthermore, researches on genetics might be highly
benefited from cloning technologies. “Discovering these measurable molecules of
toxicity, we hope to present other serious adverse reactions that are caused by
testing drugs in animals, with the hope of bringing safer drugs to patients.” says
Gabriela Cezar, assistant professor of animal science at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. Human stem cell research is promising in testing the effects
of biologicals, chemicals, and drugs in the most relevant species – humans.
Such studies could lead to fewer, less costly, and better designed human
clinical trials to achieve more specific diagnosis and more effective therapies
for patients. However, the usage of embryonic stem cells for drug testing is
still a relatively new concept, and according to some scientists, more
researches should be carried out before confirming that the method is reliable.
8

On the other hand, the question about the ethics of has
been raised and is constantly debated worldwide. The Director-General of the
World Health Organization (WHO) considered human cloning as “ethically
unacceptable as it would violate some of the basic principles which govern
medically assisted reproduction. These include respect for the dignity of the
human being and the protection of the security of human genetic material” 9

Many of the immediate condemnations of any possible
human cloning following Ian Wilmut’s cloning of an adult sheep claimed that it
would 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 our
sense of individuality or uniqueness; destroy the valuable meaning of human
beings and our “irreplaceable value”. Even with the same genes, two
individuals, for example homozygous twins, are completely distinct and not
identical. A person’s traits, characteristics and life are not only the product
of their genome but also their surroundings. Every day, humans are in contact
with different chemicals surrounded us and some of which has altered the
behavior of our genes. For instance, the chemical called methyl floating around
our 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 DNA
methylation such as diet, illnesses, ageing, smoking etc. A recent carried out
by Professor Tim Spector, head of twin research at King’s College, London and his colleagues shown that identical twins have different tolerances
to pain and the genes which determined whether or not they get a disease are
often switched on in a twin and off in another. Although homozygous twins begin
life with the same genomes, over times differences in physical, personal
characteristics will develop with distinct personal relationships, life history
and life choices. 

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