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Benefits of Cloning

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Cloning: It’s Not Just History That’s Repeating

Most people do not recognize the benefits of cloning animals or even human organs. Whenever the word “clone” is heard, most people imagine the science fiction cliche of clones that will take over the world, but the truth is, in the past twenty years of cloning, no one has cloned a full human. From the dawn of the age of clones, there were mice, frogs, and cows cloned from embryos, but then came Dolly the sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell. Clones also have many, many benefits ranging from better milk to organ transplants and blood transfusions.

Cloning has been around since the world was created, through asexual bacteria and ‘virgin births’ in aphids. Cloning in labs can occur a couple of different ways, one of which is Artificial Embryo Twinning, and Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). Artificial embryo twinning, easier than somatic cell nuclear transfer, uses the same processes as natural twins. In this process, the embryo is split in the first day that the egg and sperm cells join. The two halves continue to grow eventually becoming two individual organisms. Doing this artificially follows the same concepts, but is instead done in a petri dish. An early embryo is separated into individual cells. These cells are then allowed to grow and develop before being placed into a surrogate mother, since all embryos come from the same fertilized egg, they are all genetically identical. Somatic cell nuclear transfer takes a different approach, but the results are the same. Somatic cells are not a special cell, they are just cells other than sperm or egg cells. They could be cells taken from the animal's eye, liver, pancreas, brain, or toe. Researchers take a somatic cell from an animal, usually an adult, and an egg cell from the same type of animal. The nucleus and all DNA is then removed from the egg cell. Then the nucleus from the somatic cell is transferred to the egg cell using electrical currents. Once the nucleus is transferred into the egg cell, the egg develops into an embryo, it is then placed in the surrogate mother’s womb. This is the process used to clone Dolly the sheep, the first successfully cloned mammal using SCNT.

Keith Campbell, Ian Wilmut, and other colleagues were the ones that cloned Dolly using somatic cell nuclear transfer. These researchers worked at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. They also had help from the PPL Therapeutics, a biotechnology company near Edinburgh, along with the Ministry of Agriculture. Dolly was born in 1996 on July 5th to three mothers, one provided the egg, another provided the DNA, the third was the surrogate mother. Dolly lived at the Roslin Institute her entire six years of life, where she was bred with a ram to produce six lambs, Bonnie, Sally, Rosie, Lucy, Darcy, and Cotton. She developed arthritis at the age of four, and at the age of six, Dolly was euthanized due to her severe arthritis and progressive lung disease. Although Dolly’s disease was common among sheep raised indoors, many speculated Dolly’s death was caused by other factors. The press believed that Dolly’s death was caused by the fact that sheep she was cloned from was six years old when the genetic material was taken from her. In 1996, Dolly was the only one to survive to adulthood from two-hundred seventy-seven clones. This is much different from the success rates of today, In 2014, China had reported having a seventy to eighty percent success rate with pig clones, and in 2016, Sooam Biotech, a Korean company, produced five hundred clones each day. Dolly was not the first cloned animal though. Almost twenty years before Dolly was cloned, scientists were cloning mice, cows, and chickens using artificial embryo twinning.

These clones have not just been to make animals that look alike. Many clones are being used for medicinal benefits. The researchers at the Roslin Institute that cloned Dolly have been cloning more sheep have been genetically modified to produce better milk. This milk contains a protein essential for blood clotting, with this, the researchers hope to someday purify this protein from the milk so they may give it to people that have issues with blood not clotting properly. Cloned animals can also be used for drug and treatment testing. There are many advantages to using clones for testing, one example is since clones are genetically identical, if the drug is reliable, then all the tests should come back the same. Another example is since the animals are cloned in a lab, there is no risk of that species of animal to become extinct or endangered. If scientists are creating their test subjects in their lab, then there is no need to take these animals from the wild, thus diminishing their population. This is just what scientists



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