Pressing the Clone Issue
Do you remember when in vitro fertilization (often called ?test tube babies?) was the center of controversy? Many people believed that this technique violated the laws of God and nature! Today, in vitro fertilization creates between eleven and twelve thousand babies a year, allowing many infertile couples to have biological children of their own. Currently, when cloning is mentioned, people tend to have the same type of negative reaction. Some people may react negatively because it is a new concept, much like test tube babies were in the past. Still other individuals seem to think that is it baby killing. All the negative news reports do not help cloning move forward at all! In vitro fertilization takes an egg and a sperm to produce a baby, in contrast, cloning to produce children (reproductive), and cloning for biomedical research (therapeutic) are both asexual creations. When the press covers the vast advancements accomplished thus far in reproductive and therapeutic cloning research, instead of shocking the general public into believing it is baby killing, then people might become more open minded, like they have become with the idea of in vitro fertilization.
One difference in reproductive and therapeutic cloning types is the way the eggs and embryos are treated in the beginning of the procedure. A female contributor donates an egg. In both forms of cloning, scientists remove all DNA from the egg so that it is an empty vessel ready for the adult donor DNA insertion. Reproductive eggs are inserted with DNA from a human or animal (child or adult) to create a twin, whereas therapeutic eggs are given DNA from an adult patient to create duplicate tissue, nerves, or skin depending upon what the patient needs. Both types of eggs are given shock treatments and stimulants, which force the egg to divide, creating an embryo. At this time in the process, reproductive eggs are implanted into the womb of the host mother for the gestation period, unlike therapeutic embryos, where the stem cells are removed from the therapeutic embryo with the rest of the cells being allowed to expire. Not all types of therapeutic cloning will use eggs; some types just utilize adult stem cells. Neither of these methods will employ a single sperm from a male donor, and so, both of these methods are an excellent way to study, and possibly generate remarkable medical cures.
Another difference between reproductive and therapeutic cloning is the end product or result. Reproductive type cloning will create a living organism, unlike therapeutic cloning, which can produce several different types of living tissue. Reproductive cloning is an attempt to reproduce a living entity in order to remove a defective gene, or to include some type DNA that will enhance animals to produce additional quantities of a particular hormone in order to make medication for humans more economical. Therapeutic cloning, on the other hand, will produce many different types of replacement tissues for sick patients. Burn victims are a good example of people in need of such tissue. Therapeutic cloning will also produce nerves, muscles, organs and a host of other cells needed by the body when ill. The process for both types of cloning is long, difficult, costly, and takes many attempts to succeed. Scientists have only been able to clone animals and plants with partial success. Doctors have effectively treated diseases such as multiple scleroses, heart disease, and Parkinson?s disease, just to name a very few. The astonishing benefits of both types of cell reproduction will be quite miraculous when our scientific investigators are given free rein to explore this unknown world of genetics.
A final and significant difference to the individual types of cloning is the media coverage they receive, or do not receive. It appears as though everyone has heard of the cloned sheep, Dolly. She was the first mammal cloned in Scotland sometime in 1996 after 277 failed attempts. Yet, who has heard of Mr. Dennis Turner? In 1999, Mr. Turner was treated for Parkinson?s disease by his doctor in Los Angeles with his own neural stem cells. The doctor did not turn the cells into an embryo; for an egg was not used. The physician was able to grow the cells in his own lab. These cells were coaxed into Dopamine-producing cells. Dopamine is a chemical lacking in the brain in Parkinson?s disease patients. With merely one injection into the brain,