The Deficiencies of Artificial Cloning for Realistic Medical and Scientific Purposes
Have you ever had one of ‘those’ days? You know which ones; the days where there just aren’t enough hands to go around or enough time to finish everything that needs to be done. Those are the days that people tend to have that one fleeting thought: “If only there were two of me, I could relax while my clone does all the work!” But if they had the chance to try it, to have a clone, knowing all of the risks and consequences involved, would they go through with it? No, probably not, but the average person doesn’t think about what the repercussions of cloning themselves may be: repercussions that justify the outlawing of the cloning process. A clone, by definition, is an exact DNA copy of the original, such as an identical twin. However, scientists have created a process for artificially cloning called nuclear transfer. This process entails removing an egg from the carrier, removing the DNA from the egg and replacing it with a complete set of DNA from the donor source, and implanting the egg back into its host. After the gestation period, a clone is born. An artificial clone suffers from any disease that its predecessor has or had and also from a slew of problems that are common with cloning experiments. In fact, anyone could be surprised by the detrimental effects that the cloning process can have, for both the clone in question and for the mother as well. Although an artificial clone is an exact DNA replica, the creatures created through cloning are often weaker than the originals, and commonly suffer from a wide array of diseases and detrimental conditions, including pulmonary fibrosis, weakened immune systems and other birth or growth defects. Dolly the sheep, created by Professor Ian Wilmut, was the first mammal successfully cloned from and adult cell using nuclear transfer methods. (Foster, 10) As information has been gathered over the years and cloning has been further researched, it became increasingly clear that clones are commonly born with weakened immune systems which have trouble fighting off diseases that a normal system wouldn’t. Dolly’s breed, a Finn Dorset has an average life expectancy of ten to twelve years; however, Dolly only made it to the age of eight before she was euthanized, as she had developed degenerative arthritis at age four. Another fact that many people may not know is how often clones are born. The truth is that only a small percentage of clones survive to birth, and those that do are often plagued by a variety of health problems. Some of these would include obesity, frequent bouts of pneumonia, and even liver failure (Foster, 10). What’s worse is that clones are more susceptible to infections and tumors. Japanese studies have shown that cloned mice live in poor health and die early, and about a third of the study’s cloned calves have died young and many of them were abnormally large. Pulmonary fibrosis, or scarring of the lungs, is also commonly associated with cloning. The carriers (or surrogates) of clones also face distinct risks that are not commonly associated with regular pregnancies. The procedure to extract eggs for the actual cloning process to begin is extremely painful for the carrier to go through and often can occur multiple times, as the success rates for clones is so low and more attempts are made. In an article discussing cloning and the procedures used for it, the Technology Review has even mentioned this aspect of the cloning process, though briefly. The statement is as follows: “Lack of human eggs has presented and enormous obstacle: eggs are collected via a lengthy and potentially painful and risky procedure that few women are willing to undergo.” Complications during gestation and development of the offspring can also injure or potentially kill the surrogate as well as the infant, and the births can also be dangerous for both. Defects in the genetic makeup of...
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