Cloning Benefits Essay, Research Paper
Cloning Benefits What if while walking down the street you encountered someone who looked exactly like you? Would you stare in amazement or would your heart be filled with fear? At first some people may look upon the idea of cloning with disgust and question themselves if humans should play God while others would be interested and study the many possibilities that cloning offers. This illustrates the path that cloning has taken over the latter part of the twentieth century. At first, when cloning was brought up in conversations, people tended to fearfully think of an army of identical persons marching across the earth in hopes of ruling humans. This and many other absurd notions of clones stem from science fiction movies and books where clones are distorted into horrid, monstrous beasts. In Ira Levin’s science fiction book, The Boys of Brazil, baby Hitlers are cloned in order to take over Hitler’s dream of his race dominating the world (Harris 361). This distortion was, and still is, a common misconception of the goals of cloning. In reality, cloning, along with its counterpart gene therapy, is not intended for the production of a fully developed individual. Instead, cloning and gene therapy are about the medical advancement of the world’s population through the control of diseases and replacement of missing hormones and organs. Although there are arguments against them, the possibilities of cloning and gene therapy are important for the production of organs and hormones and as a means to control diseases, but both must also be strictly regulated in order to outlaw the production of fully-developed human clones. Until 1997 the chance of mammalian cloning seemed just about as unlikely as finding a cure for AIDS. However, 1997 marked the beginning of the wonderful technology known as mammalian cloning. In that year scientists in Scotland cloned, for the first time, a sheep (”The Future” 46). Since then people think that biologists are cloning both human and other mammal’s embryos only to see how far they can push the scientific envelope, but in fact there are many legitimate reasons for investigating cloning. Embryologists believe that research into cloning could help improve the life of future generations. Cancer research is possibly the most important reason for embryo cloning they argue. Oncologists believe that embryonic study will advance understanding of the rapid cell growth of cancer. Cancer cells develop at approximately the same phenomenal speed as embryonic cells do. By studying the embryonic cell growth, scientists may be able to determine how to stop rapid cell division, and also stop cancer growth in turn (Hyde 15). Another important area of embryo cloning research is embryonic stem cell development. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into almost any type of cell in the body. These cells are not attacked by a person’s immune system, because of their fast development and undifferentiated status (Wilmut 4). Many doctors believe that these stem cells could be used in treatments for brain and nervous system damage. Perhaps a more questionable use of cloned embryos is for spare parts and hormones. Production of transgenic farm animals to make organs to transplant in humans with organ failure has been heavily researched. Companies like Alexion Pharmaceutical have been working on the development of “pigs to grow hearts and kidneys that won’t be rejected in transplants” (Reibstein 58). For example, the cells used to generate tissues for transplantation could include skin and blood cells for treatments of burn and other injuries, bone marrow transplants for leukemia patients, and neurological tissues for degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (Winston 913). Obviously human embryo cloning is a great source for human advancement, and it is the technology that will finally make it possible to apply genetic engineering to humans. Genetic engineering involves splicing and recombining Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA) to create or fix a gene on a chromosome. Many treatment drugs have been made through a procedure known as gene splicing. Gene splicing is a method in which whole genes or parts of genes are put into bacteria where they are reproduced when the bacteria divide. In 1982, two advancements in gene splicing were made; Interferon, a drug used to treat cancer, and Humulin, a synthetic form of insulin used to treat diabetes, were produced through gene splicing (Hyde 44). According to Hyde’s book, Cloning and the New Genetics, before gene splicing was used it took twenty steer and eighty hog pancreases to produce a year’s supply of insulin for one person. This may not sound like much, but when you consider the fact that approximately sixty million people have diabetes worldwide that is a lot of animals whose lives have been saved (61). Another treatment greatly affected by genetic engineering is Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Without HGH, children’s growth is decreased so much they tend to look dwarfed. Instead of extracting the pituitary glands from fifty cadavers per one child, genetic engineering now allows scientists to use the common bacteria E. Coli to produce HGH (62). . Both gene therapy and cloning are extremely important for the advancement of humans. According to D. J. Weatherall’s book, The New Genetics and Clinical Practice: “Finally, and perhaps most important[ly] in the long [run], these new analytical techniques will broaden the scope of the genetic analysis of human disease to encompass the cell and molecular biology of a variety of the major killers of western societies, in particular vascular disease, diabetes, cancer, rheumatic disease, and major psychiatric disorders.” (2) Without these new technologies many people would die, and in order to continue with these technologies, we need to restrict only the parts that are harmful or unethical to society. Regulation and restriction must be established in order to outlaw the implantation of a cloned embryo into a woman’s womb. Because human embryo research is just in its infancy, there has been a rush to decide what guidelines are going to be instituted for governing cloning experiments. However, we must not make rash decisions to ban cloning because “[w]hat’s at stake here are lifesaving technologies, the only hope for thousands afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and other deadly and disabling diseases (Carey 2).” To assist the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in determining which cloning experiments to fund, a medical panel was set up to form a preliminary set of guidelines. Steven Muller, the head of the panel, set out with the help of several prominent biologists including, Brigid Hogan and embryology specialist Mark Hughes, to put together a set of guidelines that would satisfy the concerns of both the scientific and religious communities. The religious community vigorously opposes all human cloning procedures for fear that humans are attempting to play God and destroy the family. The scientific community sympathizes with the religious communities concerns, but does not want to lose the enormous amount of information that may be gained by human embryo cloning. Muller’s panel announced a set of guidelines that they hope would be acceptable to both communities. They recommended research be permitted on embryos allowing them to develop up to and including the fourteenth day. Researchers would also be allowed to produce new embryos for what the NIH considers compelling research. Researchers would also be permitted to remove some of the embryonic cells from embryos that are destined for in vitro fertilization at a later time (Marshall 1024). The panel did not come to a decision in several other areas including research funding. The panel suggested that research might be permitted after the fourteenth day of development depending upon the circumstances, but definitely not after the eighteenth day, when neural tube closure begins to develop. The neural tube is the beginning of the nervous system, including the brain, in adult humans (Marshall 1024). Thus the scientific community seems to be giving more moral consideration to an embryo then a majority of society gives to a more developed fetus during abortion The experiments that the panel recommended be banned include impregnating human embryos in other animal species, impregnating cloned embryos into humans, the use of embryos for sex selection, or the transfer of one nucleus from one embryo to another. These are but a few of the procedures that the panel felt were inappropriate for federal funding (Marshall 1024). However, the above limitations only apply to federally funded experiments. Currently there are no laws directly prohibiting any of the above procedures in private research settings. It should also be stated that all of the above procedures have or can be carried out with our current technology. Although the NIH does not have the ability to stop privately funded cloning clinics like the one Richard Seed plans to build, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does. “The [FDA] already has the power to quash attempts to clone people. Eccentric scientists… can announce plans to open human-cloning clinics. But without FDA approval, they’ll be committing a crime. And they won’t get FDA approval” (Carey 1). Whenever a new idea is introduced into society, it is usually met with criticism and fear by some and with joy and hope by others. Just like criticism and fear arrived with the delivery of Louise Brown, the first In Vitro fertilization baby born in 1978 (Tudge 34), the same will hold true for cloning. However, there is hope. Not only is In Vitro fertilization accepted now, but it is used daily by hundreds of couples trying to conceive when it was impossible to even imagine a family before. The plain and simple truth is that both cloning and gene therapy provide many new and exciting possibilities such as the production of organs and hormones and the control of disease to ensure the future health of the human race. Like In Vitro fertilization, humans need to open their eyes and accept these new techniques that are creeping over the horizon which can not only save lives, but increase our longevity as a society. Many critics of cloning and gene therapy do not stop to think about the possibilities of these technologies or about the possibility that one of their offspring could need some genetically engineered or cloned substance to save their life in the future. They worry about one or two scientists trying to clone humans instead of the possibilities that will be available to the world to fight disease. If humans would just take a look at the bigger picture they would realize that cloning and gene therapy will not be the downfall of society, but will increase our longevity and health as a whole.