Cloning in biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Essentially it is the production of an exact copy of an original. Cloning has the potential to save human lives by providing needed organs for transplant, expand the scientific advantages of research in genetics and fertility, as well as cure genetic diseases and disorders.
The history of cloning has been used to both give hope to a future in cloning as well as discredit the legitimacy of it. Cloning of plants has been a common practice of mankind for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. Even cloning of small animals has a long history dated back to the 1960's. However, human cloning had not been thought possible until the successful cloning of the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, in 1997. The birth of Dolly was a major scientific and technological breakthrough. However, it also raised the possibility that one day humans will be cloned, as well as many medical and ethical issues and concerns associated with this possibility. Following the cloning of Dolly, many other animals, including cows and mice, have been successfully cloned.
Scientists hope that one day therapeutic cloning can be used to generate tissues and organs for transplants. To do this, DNA would be extracted from the person in need of a transplant and inserted into an enucleated egg, or an egg that comes from a nucleus. After the egg containing the patient's DNA starts to divide and the embryonic stem cells can then be transformed into any type of tissue to be harvested. The stem cells would be used to generate an organ or tissue that is a genetic match to the recipient. In theory, the cloned organ could then be transplanted into the patient without the risk of tissue rejection. "If organs could be generated from cloned human embryos, the need for organ donation could be significantly reduced" says Charles Choi of the Scientific American. He also writes that engaging in therapeutic cloning would greatly diminish or even end the organ shortage and, because we would be using our own cells for the cloning process, our bodies would not reject the organs and there would be no need for anti-rejection drugs which, in turn, would reduce the cost to the patient, insurance companies and the government.
Cloning also has the potential advantage of expanding scientific understanding and application of research in fertility. Fertility studies would greatly benefit from cloning research. Naoto Nitta, a writer from Blackwell Publishing writes in her article "Cloning of a Fertility Restorer", "Cloning in human beings can prove to be a solution to infertility and serve as an option for producing children. Reproductive cloning may make it possible to reproduce a certain trait in human beings.” Scientific advantages in understanding genetics also benefits infertile studies. Many miscarriages are caused by spontaneous abortions where the body rejects the potential fetus before it has a chance to mature. The causes of this are not understood, and it is thought that cloning would help shed light on this problem. Understanding this problem may also lead to the development of new, safe and successful contraceptives. Nestor Morales of the Reproductive Healthcare Institute writes, "In in-vitro fertilization, a doctor often implants many fertilized ova into a woman's uterus and counts on one resulting in pregnancy. However, some women can only supply one egg. Through cloning, that egg could be divided into eight zygotes for implanting. The chances of pregnancy would be much greater." Science provides those parents who are unable to conceive on their own a way to become the parents of their own biological children.
Cloning on a molecular level can also benefit studies in genetics. Geneticists have used the reality of evolutionary...