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Human Cloning

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Human Cloning

For the last few decades, cloning was a fictitious idea that lay deep within the pages of sci-fi novels and movies. The very idea that cloning could one day become reality was thought to be a scientific impossibility by many experts. But on February 22, 1997, what was thought to be purely science fiction became reality. That day, a team from the Roslin Institute, led by Dr. Ian Wilmut, changed the history forever by revealing what looked like an average sheep. And its name was Dolly. Dolly became one of the most famous if not the most famous sheep in modern day. She was the first ever clone of a mammal. She was an exact biological carbon copy, a laboratory counterfeit of her mother. This news shocked the world for Dolly was the key to many new and prosperous possibilities (DeMuth 8).

But Dolly was not the first clone ever. Cloning of a more limited sort had been done before her. Creatures such as mice, frogs and salamanders had been cloned from as early as the 1950's. This procedure included the destruction of the nucleus inside the egg cell. Then a new donor cell would be brought and injected into the egg cell as a replacement. The egg would then grow into offspring of the same genetic make-up as the donor. Later on in the 1970's a new technique was developed. This technique included transferring the genes from one organism to another by combining the DNA from a plant or animal cell with the DNA in bacteria. This cloning technique allowed for the growth of many endocrine system treatments such as hormone, insulin and interferon (Robinson 300).

In 1993, researchers at George Washington University Medical Center cloned cells from human embryos. This was accomplished using the DNA technique, the bacteria method, but stirred up enormous outcries from the public. They considered this pushing technology just too far (Maci 6). Soon after in the mid 1990's, a team from the Roslin Institute, the creators of Dolly, discovered a new and more efficient method of cloning. A method that was so simple, any in-veto lab could have done it fifty years ago. This method of cloning was one of great similarity to the procedure created in the 1950's. An egg cell was taken from the udder of a Finn Dorset ewe and placed in low concentrate to allow the cell to stop dividing. Then the nucleus of a Black face ewe along with its DNA was sucked out leaving an empty cell with all the necessary cellular machinery to successfully produce an embryo. Using the two cells, the cell from the Finn Dorset and the cell from the Black face, an electric pulse was created by placing them next to one another. Then another electric pulse was created which mimicked that of the one before it. This summoned the cells to begin divide. As the cells grew in number, an embryo slowly began to be made and soon it was ready to be injected back into the body of another sheep (DeMuth 8). Using this same or a similar procedure, a human clone may one day be born.

When Dolly came to existence, people realized that this breakthrough could be a door to unimaginable technology, not all necessarily positive. The notion that this discovery could change the world and peoples lives was beginning to threaten the minds of activists and others. Many of the fears that come with these theories are within cultural and religious beliefs, or from being exposed to too many movies. Films like "The Boys from Brazil", where Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele uses Adolf Hitler's tissue to create 94 clones of Hitler and attempts to establish a Fourth Reich. Or even the most famous of movies dealing with cloning, "Frankenstein." These movies in and of themselves were outcries and attempted to depict the terrible outcome that awaited those that tampered with nature.

It is an age-old problem: Man's scientific and technological development vs. his social and moral development. Science and technology always seem to be just a step ahead. However, Jean Elshtain, professor of Social and Political Ethics at The University of Chicago, disagrees with this thinking. She states, "The problem is not that we must catch our ethics up to technology. The problem is that technology is rapidly gutting our ethics....The queasiness the vast majority of Americans feel at this 'remarkable achievement' is appropriate and should be aired and explored fully." She continues on to say, "Perhaps something remarkable will finally happen" and "we will put the Genie back into the bottle for a change" (Nussbaum 185).

One of the most common defenses of why human cloning should be allowed is related to medical purposes (Nussbaum 147). Human cloning technology is expected to result in numerous medical breakthroughs. Having a better idea of cell differentiation will help scientists discover a cure for cancer, one of the worst diseases known. It is predicted that soon will follow cures for heart attacks, an enhancement in cosmetic surgery, and other life-saving medicines and cures. When and if cloning is fully accepted, the most likely direction scientists will take a step in is Therapeutic cloning. This is where the DNA of a person is used to grow its own embryonic clone; however, instead of placing the embryo within a surrogate mother, its cells will be used to grow stem cells. These stem cells will be able to be utilized as a type of human repair kit, in

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