On June 26, 2000, scientists involved in the Human Genome Project announced their success in mapping the human genome. This has created an enormous controversy over property rights in human tissue. With advances in biotechnology and the advent in cloning, it seems likely that these issues will continue to cause controversy in the years to come.
As the shortage of organs available for transplantation continues to grow, new methods of obtaining organs and tissues are being developed. These technologies raise several issues, including the extent of property interest people have in their own tissues and implications of the potential patenting of cloned organs and transgenic animals. Such an interest should extend to organs cloned in a lab, but not to organs of a human clone or to research innovations obtained through the use of donor DNA.
The need for a readily available source of transplantable organs and tissues becomes greater each year. Even though the number of organ transplants increases each year, so does the number of people waiting for a compatible organ. Because of consent requirements and compatibility problems, the traditional sources of transplantable organs such as cadaveric organ donations are inadequate to meet the growing demand. Consequently, scientists have begun to look to alternative sources for transplantable organs, one of the most promising sources being cloned organs.
One of the most beneficial potential uses of new cloning technology is the possibility of cloning to obtain tissues for transplants. Before the arrival of Dolly, the sheep from Scotland, the prospect of successfully cloning humans seemed closer to science fiction than to reality. Methods of Cloning:
Cloning, in its simplest sense, refers to a precise genetic copy of a molecule, cell, plant, animal, or human being. There are four separate ways to clone. The first two methods, however, cannot be used to produce a cloned human. The simplest of the four processes, molecular cloning involves copying and amplifying DNA gene fragments in a host cell to produce large quantities of DNA for use in experiments. As its name indicates, cellular cloning occurs at the cellular level, by growing cells in a culture in a laboratory to produce a cell line.
The two remaining methods of cloning, blastomere separation and nuclear transplantation cloning ("SNTC") are capable of producing a cloned human. Blastomere separation involves the splitting of an embryo soon after fertilisation (while in the 2 8 cell stage). Each resulting cell is capable of producing an entire organism, genetically identical to the others. Like blastomere separation, SNTC is capable of producing a cloned human. SNTC, the technology that was used to produce Dolly, was an important breakthrough. In SNTC, the nucleus is removed from an egg cell, then is replaced with a nucleus from a somatic cell. By starving adult cells of nutrients, the cells become inactive. Once the cells are inactivated, scientists can introduce DNA from a differentiated cell, and essentially reprogram DNA to express all of its genes. The resulting cell is capable of producing an animal genetically identical to the DNA donor.
Despite proposed legislation aimed at banning the cloning of human beings, the prospect of cloning raises interesting possibilities for the field of organ transplantation. The current shortage of organs available for transplantation is due in large part to the problems involved in finding a suitable donor. The biggest reason as to why transplants fail is because of the rejection of the transplanted organ. The closer the match between the donor and the recipient, the better the chances are for success. Consequently, identical twins are ideal donors (i.e.: clones). There is no risk of rejection because the clone would contain the same genetic material as the organ recipient. In this case the clone would essentially be a younger version of...