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Cloning involves the scientific process of producing duplicate copies of genes and organisms by nonsexual methods. It involves mitotic cell division in which a new organism eventually results as a genetically identical replica of the original DNA donor. The cloning process takes a donor body cell (with a nucleus) and nurtures it in low nutrient conditions to the point where the body cell division stops. Then, an unfertilized maternal egg cell is taken and its nucleus is removed, therefore leaving cytoplasm and organelles, but no chromosomes. Following this step, the DNA donor (diploid) cell and unfertilized egg cell are either fused together by an electric pulse that eventually initiates a mitotic division or the donor DNA is microinjected within the egg. As the cell divides, an early embryo is formed; this embryo is maintained in a culture dish for several days. During this period, the embryo develops into a hollow ball of cells and is implanted into a surrogate mother’s uterus. This process of Nuclear Transfer soon allows for the newly introduced embryonic cell to dictate the growth and maturity of the new organism without sexual reproduction ever occurring. The result, at birth, is a clone.

In examining the cloning process and its importance to modern day scientists, the idea of Xenotransplantation must be considered. Xenotransplantation is the transfer of organs and tissue from one unrelated species to another. It is another method of animal cloning that may be used to help humans in need of healthy and functioning organs. A global shortage of human organ donors has sparked a great deal of research and investigation into xenotransplantation. The process of cloning in xenotransplantation is vital because of certain immunity and organ-rejecting phenomenon that occurs within typical medical transplantations. Naturally, if a foreign organ is introduced to a body, the body’s immunity and defenses immediately attack and destroy anything that is not recognized as being original. It is because of this that animals (particularly pigs) are used in creating and harvesting organs that are less likely to be attacked by human body defenses by what is called hyperacute rejection. The cloning process is used by the injection of human DNA within pigs so that the pigs are genetically modified to reduce rejection by a human host, when it comes time to extract and inject organs.

Pigs have been especially useful in research studies because of the degree of compatibility and convenience they provide for researchers and humans in general. Pigs are generally easy to clone in fairly sterile environments. Researchers also turn to pigs because they give birth in fairly large litters �this implies a potential for abundance for any future for organs intended for the growing number of people who need transplants. Pigs also grow and reach maturity quickly and have organs that are nearly match the sizes of human organs; these too are valuable characteristics in terms of using them for medical transplants. Despite the fact that pigs appear to be very enticing for xenotransplantation initiatives, there is still the underlying fact that humans and pigs are two different species separated by genetics.

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Even though the pig stands as one of the most ideal candidates for xenotransplantation procedures, the fact that it is an animal leaves open room for wide debate over several safety risks. Aside from the risks of body rejection of organs, there remains another question of whether or not animal diseases will be introduced into humans upon transplantation or shortly thereafter. For example, primates such as chimpanzees, (one of the closest in size and blood types to humans), are not selected as prime xenotransplantation organ donors, in part, because of disease implications. Though these primates share some body size and blood type similarities with us humans, the virus that causes AIDS in humans is thought to originate from chimpanzees. Another such example of possible virus transmission is that of the deadly Ebola virus. Other possible risks that are drawn into xenotransplantation are of the negative effects that might emerge if transplant patients are released back into mass populations, posing a public health threat.

This topic is shrouded in much controversy not only because of the epidemic potential it has but also because the process of xenotransplantation is still relatively new and a great amount of pigs may be killed in order to achieve the desired results suitable for organ harvesting. There are activists that take the position that just because our donor participation among humans is low, we have no right to look elsewhere (in animals) for the solutions. The argument is made on the accusation that scientific researchers would be inflicting great animal suffering, exploitation and harm. Many questions of ethics come into play in this as well. The question of whether the integrity of the human body will remain intact also poses a concern for many. But no matter what side argues for or against the process, it still remains in the research process, which still leaves time for more debate on whether or not it is a suitable method of medical practice.

In evaluating my personal ethics, this practice is not completely favored. By looking at the benefits and negative aspects of this procedure, I would say that there are more negative aspects. I also agree with animal rights activist approach. Pigs should not be exploited and killed in the name of medical science. On the other hand, it would be great to have an answer to all those waiting on a list for new organs. But if anything, organ transplants should continue to be done among humans, because there is a less of a risk of disease and viral exchange. The numbers of American organ donors is low, yet I get the impression that there have not been greater efforts to encourage organ donation. Though the prospect of xenotransplantation seems promising and is pursued with good intent, there is also much that is unknown about it. I feel that there are assumptions and ambitious measures taken too soon without the proper knowledge, expertise and certainty required to put anything into affect. Overall the process of cloning is something that may seem scientifically appealing in fiction, but not in reality. I think that just because we as humans can genetically alter and tamper with nature by cloning and genetic alteration, doesn’t mean we should.

http//www.ornl.gov/TechResources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.html

http//salc.wsu.edu/Freshman/FinalProjects/fall00/fs1/pros-cons.htm

http//www.scienceagogo.com/news/00007180065data_trunc_sys.shtml

http//www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/volno1/michler.htm

http//www.cnn.com/00/HEALTH/01/07/ethics.matters/

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