Genetics

Human Cloning



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Human cloning is only really now starting to come into prominence as a topic that will divide the scientific and legal communities for probably decades to come. Where before it was a theoretical debate, with the advance of technology the idea of cloning is fast becoming a real possibility, which has massive implications for the future of medical and ethical science. Scientists have already successfully cloned several sheep and other more simple animals and invertebrates as well, so it is really only a matter of time before they have the level of expertise to clone either a human or part of a human from stem cells.

In this case the overall aim at the moment is to clone new organs for people that need transfers, rather than being the sci-fi type cloning that we see frequently on TV where an adult enters some sort of futuristic machine and comes out the other side as two identical people, (usually with the clone being evil for some reason and lacking birth signs such as a belly button). However if the technology does become more widely available there are certainly less scrupulous regimes the world over that would almost certainly begin experiments in producing actual human clones, whether for use as expendable soldiers or genetic enhancement research or even as unofficial test subjects into a multitude of things because of the fact that officially they would not exist.

The problem at the moment of course is that a high level of cloned animals have had defects such as faulty immune systems and faster than natural degradation, IE being prone to conditions that only normally affect older animals earlier in their lives. They also tend to not live as long as the original animal which again shows that the process has not been perfected yet to a level where experimenting on humans would be ethically sound.

When the process could guarantee a near perfect copy of an individual in this type of cloning, i think governments will soften their policies on what they allow in this area, but to allow experiments that might create deformed or critically ill humans would of course face massive condemnation and would be a legal gray area in regards to culpability. By this could the scientists face charges for allowing something in their care to die or for creating something that was bound to die early or in pain from the moment it was created. Also defining what a human is compared to the deformed results of experiments or gene splicing hybrids that might be formed eventually.

Stem cell research is already completely legal in a lot of different countries, and a lot of the massive pharmaceutical and medical research companies in countries where it isn't legal are now opening facilities in countries where it is, showing that there is obvious value to the research. The main point of the research in this area is the harvesting of 'blank' or 'blueprint' cells from undeveloped fetuses, and then reprogramming them to form the cells you require. From this you can create new cells to replace faulty ones in the patient of even eventually whole new organs for transplant purposes which wont have the problem of acceptance and infection from the patient.

Overall i think human cloning in the true sense of the word is still a long way off whatever opinion you take for or against it. Stem cell research into replicating healthy organ cells however is a lot closer to being reality, and i think that in time people will come to accept it once they see the benefits medically that it can have and the lives it can save. Because of the inherent risks and current flaws with the research however i think that human cloning in the true sense should not be allowed until technology advances sufficiently to make the process a lot safer.

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More about this author: Jonte Rhodes

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