Human cloning can create a wealth of potential benefits for health care and society. Thus, it can help fight the worst cases of infertility, giving couples that were considered hopeless a chance to produce offspring. Techniques developed in cloning can also overcome birth defects and be used to improve genetic composition of newborns. Somatic cell nuclear transfer technology applied by scientists who produce clones helps to generate transplants that do not trigger an immune response and thus allow treatment of previously incurable diseases.
Human cloning made a revolution in biological science, promising dazzling benefits for many individuals and families throughout the world. With the potential to reshape the traditional understanding of health care, cloning has evoked heated debates about the ethical side of the issue. To define whether the benefits of cloning will outweigh concerns, one needs first to realize in what reams these benefits lie and how serious the promises of human cloning are. This research paper will concentrate on defining the benefits of human cloning and delineating current advances in the field. (By the way, if you need professional writing help from experts, you can contact this research paper writing service which is always available online.)
The greatest promise has been shown by cloning in issues related to human infertility. Couples that were previously deprived of any hope to have a baby can do so with the help of human cloning. This field, known as reproductive cloning, allows couples to increase their chances to become parents even if one is suffering from a serious case of infertility.
The matter is that current options for infertile couples are not very successful. According to one estimate, “current infertility treatments are less than 10 percent successful” (Smith, 1998). This means that a large number of people are going through these treatments, experiencing physical pain often associated with these procedures, spending large sums of money, with relatively little chance to produce a healthy baby.
Cloning has much better prospects, according to Princeton University molecular biologist Dr. Lee Silver. In comparison, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) that combines an egg and sperm in laboratory settings and then implants an embryo in mother’s womb, succeeded only starting with the 104th attempt when it was first applied by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards in 1978 (“On Human Cloning”, 2001). This means that they had to try 103 times before the produced the first IVF baby, Louise Brown. At the outset of cloning technology, Ian Wilmut, the ‘father’ of Dolly, “put cloned embryos into 13 surrogate mothers, and one got pregnant and had offspring”. This suggests a much higher success rate for cloning at the outset, and there is little doubt that with time technology will improve to demonstrate a much higher success rate (“On Human Cloning”, 2001).
Another opportunity delivered by reproductive cloning would entail the creation of a twin brother or sister to replace the dead child. A couple that has lost the child, for instance, during an accident, could have a replica of the child’s genetic composition through cloning. Smith (1998) claims that this new baby “would be like other twins, a unique individual and not a carbon copy of the child that was lost under heartbreaking circumstances”. This technology would be useful for parents in other cases as well, for instance, when they became infertile after the birth of the first child.
2. GENE ENGINEERING
Despite the controversy that surrounds the possibility to generate healthier genes in human beings, the breakthroughs offered by cloning efforts in this area open vast possibilities that can be used to benefit many families and individuals.
Smith (1998) in the report for the Human Cloning Foundation notes that “the average person carries 8 defective genes inside them”. These genes that cause hereditary illnesses can be removed with the help of cloning. Cloning will also be useful in removing birth defects that are found in about 4% of newborns (“On Human Cloning”, 2001). The reasons for these defects are most often unequal and ineffective division between the egg and the sperm that leaves one of these with an overload of chromosomes. Due to the fact that “cloning bypasses the process of dividing the DNA in half”, birth defects can be avoided (“On Human Cloning”, 2001). Another benefit of cloning is the fact that it allows to bypass the inheritance of serious diseases like sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis that are going to be inherited by approximately one-fourth of children in case of normal reproduction. However, with cloning, the chance of passing this disease from children to parents is reduced to virtually nil. Cloning can be used for genetic testing that will inform parents about the probability that their child has a birth defect of hereditary health problem. Thus, women who in the risk group for producing babies with Down’s syndrome or Tay-Sachs disease may find out soon enough whether the embryo has it or not and then choose to terminate pregnancy (Smith, 1998). Even so, cloning may lead to the emergence of other birth defects that have to be considered in the development of this technology (“On Human Cloning”, 2001).
In addition, there is also a possibility that humans will be able to modify their posterity in order to improve certain desirable features such as intelligence, good looks, physical strength etc. (“On Human Cloning”, 2001). This has raised concerns about the financial outlays associated with the process, and the danger that members of the upper classes will be able to improve their genetic make-up to be superior than representatives of the lower classes. This is a factor to be considered in political decisions concerning the permission to use cloning to produce “genetically improved” kids.
Therapeutic cloning is highly useful for the production of transplants that are indispensable in many diseases, such as, for instance, liver or kidney failure. Previous technologies that focused on transplanting organs from other humans were subject to the danger that transplants will come into conflict with the individual’s immune system. At the moment, “with the exception of cells from an identical twin, donor cells are genetically different from the recipient”, which can lead to the rejection of the transplanted tissues (Varmus, 1998). Medication used to suppress the immune response has serious side effects that include death of the patient (Varmus, 1998). Transplant medicine is under constant pressure to find more donors, which can lead to unethical actions, such as children trafficking in order to sell their organs. Now, cloning will allow scholars to produce, on a virtually unlimited scale, organs that were generated using the patient’s own cells and have a much greater chances to replace the dysfunctional organs successfully.
Embryonic stem cell research will permit, for instance, the reproduction of bone marrow necessary for the rescue of leukemia patients. In this way, cloning can be used to treat an array of serious conditions including spinal cord injury, heart attack, juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), Crohn’s disease, diabetes, cancer and others. Patients suffering from diabetes, for instance, will be supplied with insulin-producing cells that will correct their deficiency and save them from the need to have insulin injected during their whole lifetime (“On Human Cloning”, 2001).
Thus, a patient who suffered an acute myocardial infarction in Dusseldorf University Cardiac Clinic had his heart restored with the help of bone marrow cells. These cells “6 days after infarction 1.2×107 cells were transplanted into the artery supplying the heart” (Ho, Cummins, n.d.). The transplantation led to a dramatic reduction of infracted area from 24.6% to 15.7% of left ventricular circumference and a 20-30% improvement in the heart’s pumping activity (Ho, Cummins, n.d.).
Somatic cell nuclear transfer technology used in cloning will create innovative treatments for patients with neurologic injury and disease. For instance, for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, cloning will provide neurons that will be produced using their own tissues (“On Human Cloning”, 2001). This holds for all patients whose “mature, specialized nerve cells do not reproduce” and do not give scholars possibility to create “cultures of replicating nerve cells” (Varmus, 1998). Through use of cloning technologies, researchers can utilize a totipotent cell from the patient’s own body to generate all kinds of nerve cells, thus aiding patients with such problems as Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease (Varmus, 1998).
There are numerous instances of treatments of patients with bone marrow produced from their own cells. Thus, in the Netherlands (Utrecht and Leiden), four children who suffered from juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), were helped with bone marrow that significantly reduced pain, swelling and stiffness and did not require the application of immune-suppressing drugs (Ho, Cummins, n.d.). A 52-year-old Asian mother suffering from thymus carcinoma was treated with white cells received from her daughter, manifesting significant improvement already after three days of cell transplantation and showing a regression in her tumor after 7 months (Ho, Cummins, n.d.).
4. PLASTIC AND COSMETIC SURGERY
In the realm of plastic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery, cloning offers similar advances as in the treatment of incurable diseases that require tissue replacement. Avoiding implants that trigger an adverse immune response “instead of using materials foreign to the body for such procedures, doctors will be able to manufacture bone, fat, connective tissue, or cartilage that matches the patients tissues exactly” (Smith, 1998). This will eliminate the use of modern silicon breast implants that can inflict serious damage on women’s health by causing an immune response. The same problems persist in the use of other kinds of implants used to restore the appearance of those who had their faces mutilated in accidents or due to health problems. Using cloning technologies, scholars will apply implants that, blending effectively with one’s usual tissues, will improve appearance in a safe and effective way. Besides, in the words of Dr. Richard Seed, cloning may give an opportunity to “to reverse the aging process”, although at this point such a possibility seems a long way off (Smith, 1998).
Human cloning, although disputed from an ethical standpoint, can deliver impressive breakthroughs in modern health care, totally reformulating the concept of medical treatment. The virtually unlimited possibilities of therapeutic cloning can help save society from a large number of diseases that are now considered incurable. This can dramatically improve life expectancy and render seniors the ability to remain active and enjoy life to a very old age. Reproductive cloning can deliver chances to give birth to a healthy baby to the overwhelming majority of families that find little use in modern infertility treatments. All this leads to the conclusion that human cloning can make a significant contribution to human health.
Ho, M.-W., & Cummins, J. (n.d.). “Why Clone Humans?” Retrieved January 28, 2006 from the Institute of Science in Society’s website at: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/whyclone.php
“On Human Cloning”. (2001, October). PBS. Retrieved January 28, 2006 from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/baby/cloning.html
Smith, S. (1998). The Benefits of Human Cloning. Retrieved January 28, 2006 from http://www.humancloning.org/benefits.php
Varmus, H. (1998, February 12). Statement for the Record on Human Cloning. Before the House Committee on Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and Environment. Retrieved January 28, 2006 from http://www.hhs.gov/asl/testify/t980212b.html
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