Is your information about cloning accurate?

If you enjoy science fiction movies there is a high possibility that you have encountered the ‘cloning’ severally. Cloning is a fascinating technology and I remember the first time that I saw it I always imagined myself making a copy of myself. And I thought that since am the original I would order my clone to take my exams and be at places where I am required to be but do not want to go. It is not until the college education that I got to delve deeper into cloning technology. This article extensively addresses, what cloning is, how it is performed, and types of cloning.

What is Cloning?

It is the transfer of a DNA fragment of interest from one organism to a self-replicating genetic element such as bacterial plasmids. The DNA is then transferred to a foreign host cell. Cloning is not a new technology; it has been around since the 1970s.

Myths around cloning

Like I indicated in my introduction I used to imagine clones could be made instantly and I know most people think so. This is simply not true. Cloning results in an embryo and not a full-grown individual. So, if you were to clone yourself the clone would not immediately take up roles like doing an exam or homework for you. The embryo would have to undergo the same stages of development just like a typical individual. Cloned embryos require surrogate mothers.

The second common myth is that clones are carbon copies of the original. This is not true. While they might have the same genes and the same traits, environmental influences play a significant role in trait determination. You might be familiar with the phrase ‘nature versus nurture’.

Types of cloning

Recombinant DNA Technology (DNA cloning)

This is also referred to as, gene cloning, or molecular cloning. The technology uses bacteria plasmids and other cloning vectors to self-replicate the DNA of interest and transfer it to a host cell. The DNA of interest and the plasmid must be cut with the same restriction enzyme. When the chromosomal DNA is combined with the plasmid or the cloning vector, it is known as a recombinant molecule. This molecule is then introduced in a host cell where it will be reproduced along with the host’s DNA.

Reproductive Cloning

This type of cloning is used to generate an animal with the same nuclear DNA as another existing animal. You may be familiar with the story of Dolly the sheep; she was cloned using reproductive cloning. Through Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), a donor’s nucleus genetic material is transferred to an egg whose nucleus has been removed. The reconstructed egg is then treated with chemicals to initiate cell division. When the embryo reaches a specific stage, it is then transferred to a surrogate mother for further development until birth.

Therapeutic cloning

This the development of human embryos for use in research. These embryos do not develop to fully grown individuals, rather, they are destroyed after five days when they are at the blastocyst stage. At this stage stem cells are harvested and used to develop various organs for medical research.

Various animals have been cloned over the years, and cloning has been widely applied in various fields of biological sciences. However, whether to clone or not to clone remains the big question. Some people feel like cloning gives humans the power to play God. But it depends on how you look at it, for example, some use cloning to replace their dead pets and for drug production. It has its advantages but also has the potential to be abused.

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