Exploring a Few Critical Aspects of Cloning for a Better Knowledge
Cloning is an advanced technology that helps make an identical copy of something. In biology, this process refers to creating copies of a cell, tissue, or organism. Cloning can be beneficial for multiple reasons. It can produce identical copies of plants and animals genetically for research purposes or help build human clones for therapeutic or reproductive purposes. Human cloning is a controversial topic, though. One needs to find evidence of it happening. Nevertheless, scientists have tested it on animals, and one of the first examples of this was Dolly, the sheep. The experts used the cells of an adult sheep for cloning in 1996. After sheep, many other animals witnessed this process. These include dogs, cats, cows, pigs, etc.
Although various procedures are available, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is still the most common. One has to extract a nucleus that contains the DNA from a donor cell and transfer it into an egg cell that doesn’t have a nucleus. After this, the lab person stimulates the egg cell to help it grow and become an embryo that requires implantation into a surrogate mother to enable her to carry it to term. Cloning is a complex topic with ethical, moral, and practical significance. One must understand that cloning does not create duplicate copies of the donor organism because of the varying DNA.
Nevertheless, SCNT sees a higher number of use cases in the US where people opt for reproductive cloning of livestock. The technique helps them to obtain a profuse amount of milk from their farm animals. As hinted earlier, SCNT’s first success was Dolly, the sheep. There is a belief that this technique can also revive species that we have lost. For this, the lab technicians would need to collect cells from frozen animals. One such resurrection experiment took place on a mouse preserved for over 15 years.
It’s a rage today. People look for companies that help them make identical copies of a living animal. Some believe it is unethical to create clones of living creatures. At the same time, a few support the concept of pet cloning as they don’t find it wrong when a pet owner wants to create the exact copy of their pet if it dies. The cost of cloning is often prohibitive, amounting to tens of thousands to more than a hundred thousand dollars. As per MyBioSource’s data, one can expect to spend USD 27K to 100K on this technology. However, pet cloning isn’t so successful yet as only very few animals have been the survivors of this process. According to New York’s Columbia University’s 2018 report, the success rate of pet cloning was only 20%.
COVID-19 and cloning
If you were unaware, scientists and lab technicians banked on cloning to create a vaccine for the covid-19 virus. They took a sample of the virus to create a replica to make a vaccine to save people from the coronavirus. More specifically, an advanced tool like SCNT that helps with cell genome-reprogramming has made recombinant and cell-based therapies pretty popular in this COVID-19 time. SCNT doesn’t need embryos for stem cells, which is a significant advantage. It can create patient-specific stem cells. Cloning has also helped with vaccine creation for other virus types, including the flu.
Everyone knows that COVID-19 has been a global health hazard that has affected social and economic conditions and human wellbeing. Infection caused widespread panic in people because of the consequences associated with it. For example, patients witnessed conditions like oxidative stress, myocarditis, inflammation, neurological disorder, kidney damage, cytokine storm, and many more. Still, the pandemic scare is there, although the intensity has dropped due to vaccines and other medications that need further technological advancements.
Cloning is a constantly evolving scientific area, and the future of this technology has tremendous potential. While ethical concerns surround it, one also needs to consider the potential benefits of the technology. It could help create organs for transplant, produce genetically same animals for research, and bring extinct species back to life. The ethical grounds against it are significant and need proper handling before the technology fully realizes itself. With further research and development, it can be a game changer. Some experts opine that it can address the issue of ethical and moral constraints if scientists use cloning to develop organs required for surgery.
In the end, every technology has some ups and downs. Scientists and others must prevent misuse by making the best use of it. Risk prevention becomes critical in these areas. And as such, it takes lots of research and experiments to establish their usefulness and credibility. Hence, being careful from the beginning can be critical. Also, there must be proper information around them to debunk myths or misconceptions. Sometimes, a helpful advancement gets impacted by misleading details spread through different mediums. That’s why educating communities about them is also essential.