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  • Mahia Rahman & Hadia Jamshaid

Cloning: A Guide to Genetics Ever-Evolving Landscape


Meet Dolly, the first mammal ever cloned from an adult cell, the blueprint if you will. But what is cloning and how does it work? 


Cloning

At its core, cloning involves creating a genetic replica of an organism. One of the most common methods is SCNT, which involves taking the nucleus of a somatic cell (a cell from the body) and transferring it into an egg cell that has had its nucleus removed. The egg cell is then stimulated to divide and develop into an embryo, which is implanted into a surrogate mother where it can grow and develop. This was the process used to create Dolly, and while Dolly might be the most famous example, she's certainly not alone in the cloning club. From cows to cats, to endangered species like the wild ox, cloning has been successfully applied to a diverse range of animals.

And while the prospect of having a beloved pet “live forever” or bringing back endangered species is beyond exciting, cloning is actually making rounds for its possible therapeutic abilities. Research into therapeutic cloning for medical purposes continues to take place, offering hope for future treatments and therapies that can one day change the way our world works.


Therapeutic Cloning

Therapeutic cloning, also known as embryo cloning, is a technique aimed at harnessing the regenerative potential of embryonic stem cells for medical purposes. Unlike reproductive cloning, which aims to create a genetic duplicate of an entire organism, therapeutic cloning focuses on generating cells and tissues that can be used to treat diseases and injuries. 

The process begins with the same somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technique used in reproductive cloning. However, instead of implanting the resulting embryo into a surrogate mother for development, the goal is to harvest embryonic stem cells from the early-stage embryo. These stem cells have the remarkable ability to differentiate into various cell types, offering the potential to repair damaged tissues and organs. The applications of therapeutic cloning are endless. From the curing of motor diseases to neurodegenerative ones. Therapeutic cloning open doors such as synthesizing organs de novo, which would solve the problems of immune rejection and organ shortage for transplantation, as well as utilizing the regenerative power of cloned tissues to cure spinal cord issues

Although very preliminary there have been major breakthroughs in therapeutic cloning. For example, a 2008 study found that when mice that exhibited parkinson's-like movements received grafts from their own cells, they showed improved paw movement control on the afflicted side. This success is major and hopefully a doorway to tap into the potential of therapeutic cloning.


Drawbacks

However, like any groundbreaking technology, there are many drawbacks and ethical considerations. One of the primary concerns is the controversy surrounding the use of human embryos in research. Critics argue that harvesting embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of human life at its earliest stages, raising ethical questions about the sanctity of life and the rights of the unborn.

Additionally, there are worries about the potential for misuse or abuse of therapeutic cloning technology. The ability to manipulate human embryos and genetic material raises concerns about the consequences of such interventions, including the possibility of creating genetically modified humans or designer babies. Ethicists and policymakers are tasked with creating robust regulatory frameworks to ensure responsible and ethical use of cloning technology before we could see its use in our everyday lives.

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