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Cloning is a broad term, which is used by scientists to illustrate various processes that involve making the exact copy of biological material including a gene, a cell, a plant or an animal. Gene cloning has been used for the treatment of diseases such as diabetes and hemophilia. Genes are nothing but the chemical compounds that code for proteins that make up the body. Genes are found in chromosomes, which are present in every cell nucleus.
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Embryo Formation Process:
There are three different ways of developing human embryos. In sexual reproduction, a child gets half the genes from its maternal side in the form of eggs and half from paternal side in the form of sperm. When both egg and sperm cells fertilize, they develop into an embryo. In sexual reproduction, the embryo formed contains genes from both maternal and paternal side.
The second way of forming an embryo involves asexual reproduction. This is a cloning process where the child’s entire gene comes from a body cell of an individual. A clonal child would not have a genetic mother or father; it would contain a single nuclear donor. In this process the egg nucleus is removed from a female and donor body cell nucleus (collected from skin, hair, muscle, etc) is inserted into the egg cell, which after several division forms clonal embryo.
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Embryonic Stem cells:
These are specific cells, which are capable of budding a variety of different cells. Some stem cells are found in the adult stage while others are found in early embryos. Stems cells can be cultured in the laboratory to generate therapeutic tissues or organs. Well, it is important to understand the critical distinction between reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning.
In the former case, the process is used to produce a clonal embryo, which is placed in a woman’s womb in order to create a fully-grown living child. However, in therapeutic cloning, a clonal embryo is created but instead of placing it in a womb, it is used to generate stem cells. The main purpose of generating stem cell embryos is to permit formation of tissues or organs that the clonal donor can effectively use without having these tissues or organs rejected by the body immune system of an individual. .
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Why Human Cloning?
The one fundamental reason is scientific research. After cloning Dolly, scientists have cloned various other animals. Therefore, cloning humans seems to be the next logical step in the scientific world. Cloning could be used to generate new organs for organ transplant and for the treatment of severe diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and infertility, etc.
Most people oppose reproductive cloning. However, some people oppose reproductive cloning and support therapeutic cloning while others oppose both. Some ethical issues have made the process very difficult for the researchers. However, President of the United States, Barack Obama, has lifted restrictions on federal funding for research on new stem cell lines. This is a great move but it is also important that we cannot hurt the sentiments of those who oppose the same. If the research outcome brings hope for the treatment of severe diseases, it would be a great success for the humankind.
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(Web): Human Cloning: -- http://www.humancloning.org/essays/kevin.htm
(Web): BBC: Obama ends stem cell funding ban -- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7929690.stm
(Web):CRS Report (Human Cloning): -- http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/crsreports/crsdocuments/RS21096.pdf