Group 4 Article

What Therapeutic Cloning Is

Over the past few decades, cloning research has become a more prominent and controversial field of study. Cloning is the production of one or more individual plants or animals that are genetically identical to an original plant or animal. The parts of a plant or animal that is cloned can be as small as DNA and as large as whole organisms. In biotechnology, cloning refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments, cells, or whole organisms. All in all there are three types of cloning:

1. Asexual Reproduction: This occurs in nature as a way to reproduce. For example, asexual organisms such as bacteria, insects, and plants can produce populations that are genetically identical.

2. Cell Nuclear Replacement: Also known as Adult DNA cloning or Reproductive cloning, this type of cloning involves removing the DNA from an embryo and replacing it with the DNA from a cell removed from an individual. Then, the embryo is implanted in a woman's womb and is allowed to develop. The result is a new human whose DNA is identical to that of the original individual. In the past three decades, this method has been used to clone sheep. Since experiments on animals have sometimes produced defective specimens, Cell Nuclear Replacement cloning cannot ethically be used to produce a human clone.

3. Therapeutic Cloning: Also known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), therapeutic cloning is a type of cloning that is used to produce cloned embryos. Contrary to reproductive cloning, therapeutic cloning only to create stem cells that can in turn be used to repair damaged or defective tissue in the parent of the cloned cells. Therapeutic cloning starts by removing the DNA from an embryo and replacing it with the DNA from a cell removed from an individual. However instead of letting the embryo fully develop, stem cells from the two to three week old embryo will be extracted. The extracted stem cells will be placed in a piece of human tissue or human organ that is used for transplants. After allowing the stem cells to develop in the organ, nerve tissue, or skin, the transplant will always be a success since it will have the exact same DNA as the individual receiving the transplant.

All in all, cell nuclear replacement and therapeutic cloning are two types of cloning that goes against nature. Cell nuclear replacement is unethical because it creates a human life for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs. On the contrary, therapeutic cloning offers genetically compatible organs without taking a life. The stem cells produced by therapeutic cloning will be used to create healthy nerve cells for people with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. In addition, Skin cells could be derived from cloned stem cells for burn victims. As technology grows, the advancement in therapeutic cloning will revolutionize the medical field offering numerous benefits that will save many lives.


How Therapeutic Cloning Works

Also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), therapeutic cloning is a complex procedure that involves extracting DNA from a somatic cell, a non-egg or non-sperm cell, from a person who needed to healthy stem cells. That extracted DNA, containing two copies of each human chromosome, would be inserted into a donor egg that has had its own nucleus and DNA removed. The technical term for the transfer of DNA into an egg that has had its own nucleus and DNA removed is known as somatic nuclear transfer.

With the DNA being introduced to the donor egg and an application of a small electrical shock, the egg will hopefully act like it had just been fertilized and begin to divide, forming an embryo. Even with current technology, only a small percentage of each modified egg will actually form an embryo. Once an embryo has been successfully formed, stem cells from within the embryo will be extracted. Next, the stem cells would be encouraged to grow into whatever tissue or organ is needed to treat the patient. Stem cells are very important because they are a unique form of human cell that can theoretically develop into many organs or body parts the body. Lastly, the resulting tissue or organ would be transplanted into the patient. Theoretically, these stem cells can be used to develop into replacement any organ, such as a heart, liver, pancreas, or skin.


The Benefits of Therapeutic Cloning (TC)

The current and potential benefits of therapeutic cloning are attributable to the unique ability of the pluripotent cell. Pluripotent cells are able to mimic any and all cells in the body, and can improve the quality of life, as well as save lives. Specific advantages include the treatment of diseases, implications regarding organ transplants, increasing fertility, and alleviating concerns with ethical issues.

Treatment of Disease

Because the pluripotent cell possesses duplicative capabilities, it has the aptitude to treat diseases by replacing dysfunctional cells. For example, insulin-secreting cells could be created for diabetics, possibly increasing the quality of life and its span. The given example also hints at the customization of stem cell therapies, and their patient specific applications. Essentially, therapeutic cloning can replace lost or damaged puzzle pieces in the human body.

It should also be noted that the potential to cure diseases such as Parkinson’s could be attainable by better understanding the regenerative characteristics of organs.

However, therapeutic cloning could end the search for new treatments and cures all together. Though beyond us, the procedure would allow disease resistance to be a plausible ambition, with implications of a longer and healthier life. Illness is predominantly evoked by approximately eight defective genes that, through cloning and manipulation, could prevent disease instead of causing it. Likewise, reversing the aging process has possibility with the same connotations.

Other benefits include skin for burn victims, bone marrow for leukemia patients, brain cells for brain damaged, and spinal cord cells for people with disabilities. Embryonic stem cells could be cultivated and used to replace impaired parts of the spine, curing paralysis. In the same way, healthy heart cells could substitute weakened areas of the patient’s heart, treating heart attacks. Additionally, cloned bone, fat, connective tissue, and cartilage could be used to replace frequently rejected materials used for plastic, cosmetic, and reconstructive surgery.

Organ Transplants

Therapeutic cloning would provide patients with the solace and assurance in bypassing the traditional hurdles associated with organ transplants.

The initial threat involves finding a suitable donor, a non-existent obstacle with the advent of TC. Since organs would be produced in advance, the need for a donor is unnecessary, ultimately reducing the donor’s pain, inconvenience, and potentially shortened life span. Also, the wait-time to obtain an organ on a list that is excessive in length would be curtailed. Furthermore, disposal of the list would save lives that would have been lost waiting for an organ.

The threat of immunological rejection is highly unlikely considering the patient’s DNA is used, meaning the body won’t recognize the organ as a foreign object and attempt to destroy the organ. In addition, the patient would be able to enjoy a new organ opposed to an old one that reduces functionality.

Increasing Fertility

Male infertility can be repaired by transplanting germ cells into testicular tissue, where the germ cells undergo meiosis, transforming stem cells into sperm. A more recent method involves growing progenitor cells, also known as spermatogonial stem cells, which cannot fertilize an egg, but instead create cells that develop sperm capable of fertility. These processes would allow infertile couples to have children, who would be genetically related. It should be noted that these procedures should not be confused with reproductive cloning which bears much ethical dilemma.


Ethics

Therapeutic cloning and, the more ethically debatable, reproductive cloning have very distinguishable characteristics that require clarification. The word “cloning” is often and mistakenly associated exclusively with reproductive cloning, which goes so far as to create an identical replica of the original subject. Therapeutic cloning however is purely medical and at best produces only an organ. Following, topics such as religion surface and the counter argument presents the immorality of embryo extraction, which both forms of cloning are engaged in. However, pro-lifers and anti-cloners are unaware that no sacrifice takes place in therapeutic cloning, but merely substitution and duplication of cells. An embryo isn’t destroyed to treat or cure disease, but replaced. The community may be more accepting of therapeutic cloning if this concept is understood, and likely to continue to express disgust solely towards reproductive cloning.


Articles

In order for science to advance, ethical issues must always be addressed. Therapeutic cloning brings controversy related to the early-stage embryo experiments. Therapeutic cloning will eventually be able to save human lives, which according to many scientists justify the early-embryo experiments. The main debate involved in therapeutic cloning is the question regarding an embryo being a human. An embryo has a greater chance to fail before a baby is born than an adult dying. This justification supports therapeutic cloning argument that saving an adult life is more valuable than saving an embryo that may become a human. The main argument lies in human rights and the opinion whether or not an embryo is considered a human being.

Article #1: “Cloning: Therapeutic vs. Reproductive”

Author: Dombodizzle
Source: http://scienceray.com/philosophy-of-science/cloning-therapeutic-vs-reproductive/

In the article “Cloning: Therapeutic vs. Reproductive”, author Domobodizzle draws the line between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning, and how they differentiate from each other. Dombodizzle believes that therapeutic cloning of humans should be legalized while the reproductive cloning of humans should not. Humans that are in search if an organ donor have to overcome many complications in order for their body to function properly. The patient would have to patiently wait for a match from the organ donor and allow their body’s immune system to accept the organ. If a chance arises that the immune system does not recognize the organ right away, the patient I subjected to the use of antibiotics that suppresses their immune system. “The danger is that the patient would be vulnerable to many diseases that a normal immune system would have no problem fighting off.”

Therapeutic cloning has ultimately become the best alternative for patients because there would be no wait for an organ due to it being created in the laboratory. Scientists establish new body tissues taken from stem cells that van be used to treat disease or injury. Dombodizzle also brings up a valid point by noting that because the patient is receiving the organ from his or her own body, their immune system would not be in danger but accept it as a part of the body. In the world of innovative technology and fast-paced humans following the schedule of their day, humans are at a high risk for car accidents that could leave them without an arm or leg. Again, therapeutic cloning takes the lead, and can give the body a replacement because it will not reject its own cells. Scientists are currently trying to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. No cure has been made for any of the above mentioned items. But through a long trial and error process, discoveries are breaking through with each passing day.

The difference between therapeutic and reproductive cloning is that, “in therapeutic cloning the embryos never come to term…reproductive cloning is just the opposite: To have a clone of an original individual”. As therapeutic cloning attempts to cure diseases and supply organ for the existing population, reproductive cloning only adds to the rising population. Reproductive cloning is continually banned, and Dombodizzle believes that a solution to our future is to legalize therapeutic cloning with tight rules applied. Although many people are afraid of what therapeutic cloning can bring, Dombodizzle suggests that humans should embrace the advantages rather than becoming frightful towards something new. In order to keep the advocates for reproduction at a standstill, the society must make efforts to fund human therapeutic cloning with a possibility that scientists will be driven to dedicate themselves to this legal research. In doing so, the lives of many patients will be saved and suffering minimized as more vital diseases are being tested and cured for the welfare of the Unites States.

Article #2: “Therapeutic Cloning Can Save Lives”

Author: Raymond Barglow
Source: http://www.gmrfund.org/159529.html

In the article “Therapeutic Cloning Can Save Lives”, psychologist and political activist Raymond Barglow supports therapeutic cloning and writes upon this topic for the Global Medical Research Fund. By banning therapeutic cloning research, many cures such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes will never be cured. This type of cloning allows the patient’s own genetic material to repair injury or disease, but should be legalized and regulated.

Stem-cell research has received a lot of attention from national media and its advancements in the medical field outweigh the criticism from people such as Jeremy Rifkin who opposes this research and presents nightmares to the public by giving doomsday scenarios like the movie Attack of the Clones. Although Rifkin displays a negative campaign against this form of cloning, the government is already subjected to regulating this research, and does not have any negative side effects to the population. In fact, therapeutic cloning does not present major health risks to cell donors, does not alter existing genomes, and is studied within a laboratory handling embryonic cells that will not be implanted within a womb.

Barglow encourages other progressives like himself to expose how critics twist the facts about this research. We must rely upon the views of authorities and professionals within the field of therapeutic cloning to show that we are more conscientious and less-profit seeking than the advocates on the “other side”. While researching therapeutic cloning, scientists are hoping to comprehend the biological properties of a cloned egg that allow them to create stem cells. Once they learn how the cell “re-programming” works, they may no longer strive for the use of egg cells.

Among the biomedical researchers in the United States, there is a broad consensus that therapeutic cloning will allow new remedies for severe childhood and adult complications that affect the population. On February 8th of year 2002, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that therapeutic cloning, “offers great promise for treating diseases…closing these avenues of research that may have real costs for millions of people who now have these diseases.” Therapeutic cloning brings hope for the population, and like Barglow claims, it will assist doctors and surgeons in saving lives.

Article #3: “Therapeutic Cloning Works in Mice With Parkinson’s”

Author: Alan Mozes
Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/24/AR2008032401303.html

On March 24th, 2008 therapeutic cloning was responsible for improving neurological performances in mice with Parkinson’s disease. This experiment was the first one in which researchers had used therapeutic cloning in a customized way. Although the experiment had not been replicated in human trials, the concept of therapeutic cloning was proved to be successful.

This experiment alone can potentially have a life changing impact on today’s society. For instance, if this experiment can be replicated successfully for humans, 1.5 million Americans with Parkinson’s will be impacted in positive ways. Since, Parkinson’s impairs both motor skills and speech, by taking steps to cure it, senior citizens will be able to communicate with the rest of society longer. If additional research is able to done and additional experiments concerning other diseases are successful, therapeutic cloning can change the world.

Therapeutic cloning stimulates early-stage embryo cells into specific cells that would be responsible for various organs that would be used to replace unhealthy organs in patients. This is demonstrated in the event that a person needs an organ to be taken out due to cancer or infection but cannot live without that organ. In addition, these specific cells can be used to treat diseases and increase the strength of a patient’s immune response. For instance, if the cell is able to be made stronger, when it is inserted into a patient, that patient will be able to produce similar cells and fight a disease that would otherwise be harmful. The future possibilities seem endless and the benefits are tremendous. At the pace research is going and demonstrated in the time between the establishment of the first human embryo and the first successful experiment in counteracting a disease the future seems limitless.

Article #4: “The First Human Cloned Embryo”

Author: Jose B. Cibelli, Robert P. Lanza and Michael D. West, with Carol Ezzel
Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-first-human-cloned-em

Therapeutic cloning has taken large strides in the past ten years. The first human embryos were produced on October 13th, 2001. Using nuclear transplantation, Advanced Cell technology was able to clone human embryos in order to treat patients with various diseases in the future. This advancement from 2001 represented a new age in medicine by demonstrating that the goal of therapeutic cloning is within reach. This therapeutic cloning seeks “to use the genetic material from patient’s own cells to generate pancreatic islets to treat diabetes or nerve cells to repair damaged spinal cords”. The main concept in therapeutic cloning is the fact that only organs are produced, not humans. This means that organs can be manufactured for specific individuals. This discovery would someday provide organs to people and would insure their body’s acceptance of these organs. Their bodies would accept these organs because the organs themselves would be of the same genetic material as the patient. This technology has the potential to eliminate an organ waiting list for those in need of a replacement. Although some see this technology as defying fate, it is no different from our current donor system. This technology allows everyone to have an equal opportunity to receive organs. Furthermore, this allows people who are considered too old for a new organ to be able to receive one. The potential abundance of available organs could someday create a donor free society.

Advanced Cell Technology recruited women for their contribution of eggs and donors for their cells. The nuclear transfer technique is a process in which the scientists remove the genetic material from the eggs and inject the nucleus of a donor skin cell into an enucleated egg and incubate it. The eggs are then chemically stimulated to divide. The specific experiment involved eight eggs in which three began dividing and only one reached up to six cells. In the end however, they were successful in creating their first cloned embryo using this method. The progress that has been made in the past ten years reflects the efforts made in research and technology. If this pace is maintained, the years to come will provide life changing discoveries for later generations.


Other Resources

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-nBhl5wNOU&feature=related
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_cell_nuclear_transfer
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml
http://www.explorestemcells.co.uk/TherapeuticCloning.html
http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/2264/Cloning-THERAPEUTIC-CLONING.html


Student response:


Mijung Joanne Kim

Good introduction of what Therapeutic is. However, an asbtract would be very helpful in the beginning and also stating an exact position on this controversy would be great. There is no conclusion to determine what this article's main point was. The information is very descriptive and informative but lacks various categories that may be addressed pertaining to this issue such as having a section for Cons. It would be easier for the readers if the article had both sections for Pros and Cons. Also, the articles are helpful but seems like they are just summaries and the Group article itself is repeating the other articles. Instead, incorporating these articles in relevant sections may be a suggestion. The resources must also be typed in MLA citation format.


Chris Stack
Overall I think this was a very informative article, and like Mijung said it is very descriptive in some places, but I felt like it was lacking in others or confusing. I like the inclusion of the article summaries however, as it is a concise way of showing some other people’s viewpoints in the scientific community. The articles presented appear only to be on the pro-cloning side of the argument however, and it might be nice to at least include one from the pro-life viewpoint. I also agree with Mijung that it would be nice to have a conclusion at the end to kind of wrap up your view on why you think the benefits outweigh the ethical risks.

Here are some of the things that I got confused on or recommend changing:

I definitely think you need in-line citations, otherwise it’s hard to tell if some of the information is reliable or not, like when you say, “Illness is predominantly evoked by approximately eight defective genes that, through cloning and manipulation, could prevent disease instead of causing it.” Which sounds like an interesting fact but is also somewhat hard to believe unless you know it comes from somewhere credible.

In the Organ Transplants section it says that “Since organs would be produced in advance, the need for a donor is unnecessary” does this mean that in the future we will just have a full set of all our organs sitting in a fridge somewhere? Or perhaps only certain organs? It might be good to go over something like how they plan to store the organ once created or how long it takes to grow an organ.

In the ethics section you talk about how “no sacrifice takes place in therapeutic cloning, but merely substitution and duplication of cells” because an embryo isn’t destroyed, it’s just replaced. I’m a little confused as to what this means as from reading the beginning I was under the impression that to do this an embryo still had to be sacrificed to create the stem cells, so perhaps it would be good to clarify that part a little.

Those were my thoughts, overall I definitely thought it was an interesting article but it would benefit from a little cleanup.


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Kyle Mirabile

I think this article is more than relevant to todays culture. Stem cell research is prominant in todays society. Cloning can revolutionize medical technology today. The ability to replicate DNA far surpasses what we thought technology would be in this day and age. Stem cells can be used to help many people who have nerve cell damage diseases. These advancements can help improve the quality of life for these people and help repair damaged nerve cells. Stem cells are also great for helping with damaged organ tissues and are advantages for both sexes. Lastly they are great for boosting the human immune system against diseases.

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