Certain issues in our society raise numerous emotional and ethical concerns as cloning and stem cells. Having said that, the inquisitive nature and curiosity of man coupled with intellect and an urge to discover brings about break-through advancements in the world of science. These advancements are enough to leave man himself surprised.
Among the many developments that man has been making, a recent addition to it is Cloning. While trying to accomplish the impossible, to add on to his never-ending quest, he has reached a point where has begun to duplicate himself. Special interest groups, scientists, journalists are constantly researching this issue and trying to get as much information possible. Cloning began as an experiment on mice, frogs and then sheep but now it has ended up in experimenting MAN himself.
What is Cloning?
Cloning is the process of generating a genetically identical copy of a cell or an organism. It is the production of living structures genetically identical to their parent structure. In cloning, genetic variations are absent. The basis of this process involves taking genetic information from one living thing and creating identical copies of it. The copied material of this process is called a clone. This technology naturally occurs in asexual reproducing microbes and vegetatively multiplying plants. Lower animals that asexually reproduce like the Amoeba proteus also produce clones.
The fact that cloning as a concept may seem futuristic, nature has been doing it for million years. For example, identical twins have almost identical DNA, and asexual reproduction in some plants and organisms can produce genetically identical offspring. And scientists make genetic doubles in the lab, though the process is a little different but also similar at the same time. Nature undertakes cloning in a form when a cell replicates itself asexually without any genetic alteration or recombination. With the help of binary fission or budding, organisms that lack a cell nucleus, for example, bacteria, create duplicated of themselves that are genetically identical. On the other hand, organisms that have a cell nucleus, also known as eukaryotic organisms, for example, humans, all the cells undergo mitosis.
This includes, skin cells and cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, are clones; the only exceptions are eggs and sperm, which undergo meiosis and genetic recombination. Since the concept of cloning has been introduced, geneticists have cloned cells, tissues, genes and entire animals.
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Early Cloning Experiments
The experiments of cloning began in the 1980s on mammals such as sheep. These creatures were cloned from early and partially differentiated embryonic cells. In 1996 British developmental a famous biologist generated a cloned sheep, named ‘Dolly’. She managed to conduct this by means of nuclear transfer involving an enucleated embryo and a differentiated cell nucleus. This technique, which was later refined and became known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
Cloning was represented as an extraordinary advance in the science of cloning because it resulted in the creation of a genetically identical clone of an already grown sheep. This also showed that it was a possibility for a DNA to revert to an undifferentiated embryonic stage in differentiated somatic cells. Hence, by reestablishing pluripotency, an embryonic cell has the potential to grow into different types of mature body cells in order to make one complete organism.
Soon after the generation of Dolly the sheep, a number of other animals were cloned by SCNT, including pigs, goats, rats, mice, dogs, horses, and mules.
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