Cloning

We’ve all probably thought about it at least once. What if I could make more copies of myself? Have one of them doing homework, one of them cleaning my room and the third relaxing by playing Candy Crush (or not, perhaps)? That’s exactly what cloning is: the art of making identical copies of a living organism. Bacteria and algae do it when they go through asexual reproduction, so it’s not like it doesn’t exist. Although the topic of cloning animals (specifically us humans) is a controversial one, people are still trying to do it, and have gotten pretty far.

Cloning is a controversial topic. Many a group have probably seen or heard of some 1950’s sci-fi movie plot where a mad scientist or some other villain of the common folk makes copies of himself and goes on a rampage. This is actually pretty far-fetched from the truth. The issues that people have against cloning reach more into topics of religion and safety. Although overusing this possible tool could be a problem, almost all countries, if not all, have some sort of law against cloning whole human subjects. However, therapeutic cloning- the art of taking nuclei from some cells and inserting them into other cells instead- is allowed in some regions of the world. This is how Dolly the sheep was created.

The progress, of course, can be first told by thinking about Dolly the sheep. She was created by therapeutic cloning (aka Somatic-cell nuclear transfer) and the reason this was publicly important when the creation of Dolly was announced a year after her birth was because it showed that animal DNA could be tinkered with to create an exact copy of an animal. Not only have sheep been cloned, but cats, dogs, pigs- even camels! Cloning has also tried to produce copies of extinct animals and endangered ones from the wild has also been attempted, but the DNA could not last long enough for the experiment.

What do I think of all this? I have had exposure to it before; I have had a friend that, believe it or not, wanted to try cloning me because she believed I could use my “mathability” to save the world. (That’s respect.) I was very skeptic because she had no idea how she was going to do it, and I still am skeptic about the whole process. It’s a dangerous act to take nuclei from one cell, hoping they will survive the whole process, and implant it in another cell. We have gone over our genetics unit in class and have learned that the probability of genetically reaching a clone of a parent in all traits is a very rare thing (basically 1/8,388,608), so the only way to theoretically make a clone would be in the lab. Still, it’s a bit too out of there for my interest. My geneticist friend will hate when I break the news.

In conclusion to this tale on cloning, although it’s made significant progress in the animal field, it trails a lot of controversy when it comes to humans and should not be attempted due to the unsafe practices required.


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