Cityblog Live

CityBlog is back with all fresh local news, views, opinions, jobs, food and entertainment. Do send us your blog contributions to us for publishing at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Edition3: Cloning

Cloning: Most of us have heard about cloning and have some idea about what it might be. Cloning is seen in movies, books, on the TV and in newspapers, but what is it really?
Cloning is basically making a genetic copy of something. This might be copying just one cell, or it could be a whole animal. There's a bit more to cloning things than this explanation suggests, so you can get more information here.
A guy called Herbert Webber, from the US Department of Agriculture, invented the word clon in the early 20th century to describe plants that are genetically the same as their parent. Pretty soon clon became clone, and slowly the word became part of the English language. The biggest star in the cloning world is a sheep named Dolly. Why she's called Dolly is an altogether different story. In 1996 Scottish scientists cloned Dolly from an adult sheep. This was the first time this had been done for a mammal. Dolly died in February 2003. Now that cloning has been shown to be possible with mammals, people are getting really interested in cloning a special mammal - humans. Not everyone agrees on whether cloning is ethically and scientifically right or wrong. Several governments around the world have made laws to stop public money being spent on human cloning research. We'll leave it to you to decide if you think it's good or bad.
Dolly - The Wonder Sheep : Did you know that Dolly, the wonder sheep, was named after the country and western singer Dolly Parton? This is because the DNA that she was cloned with came from a mammary cell. So how was Dolly made (if made is really the right word)?
Scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland took an egg from a Scottish blackface ewe and removed the nucleus from it. This left them with an enucleated egg. The nucleus is the bit in the cell that has the animal's DNA, which gives instructions as to how the cell should work.
The scientists also obtained a nucleus, which they got from a mammary gland cell of a Finn Dorset sheep. They then fused (joined) the enucleated egg and nucleus together by applying some electricity, which gave them an embryo. The embryo was put into the uterus of a blackface ewe and allowed to grow like any other unborn baby sheep on a farm. When Dolly was born there was an easy way to tell that she had different DNA to the blackface ewe that had given birth to her Dolly didn't have a black face! They made a fuller check of Dolly and found that she was genetically the same as the Finn Dorset which 'donated' the nucleus. Dolly was therefore a clone
The Death of Dolly : In February 2003 Dolly, the world's first animal cloned from an adult cell, was put down. Dolly was given a lethal injection after it was found that she had lung disease. Dolly had lived for six years and had given birth normally to four lambs, however scientists become worried about her health in January 2002 when she was diagnosed with a form of arthritis. It has not been reported whether her disease is related to the fact that she was a clone but scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, where Dolly was cloned, say they will conduct a full post-mortem and report any significant findings. After the post-mortem Dolly will be preserved and displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Cc - The Copy Cat : In December 2001 researchers in Texas cloned a domestic cat, known as Cc (for Carbon copy) and it is the first time anyone has cloned a pet. The creation of Cc was funded by Genetic Saving & Clone, a California company, that hoped to make money by cloning people's favourite dead or sick pets.
Cc was the only surviving animal of 87 kitten embryos created by cloning and 'appears healthy and energetic' say researchers at Texas Agricultural & Manufacturing University.
DNA tests have proven that Cc is a perfect genetic copy of her mother 'Rainbow' and not of the tabby surrogate cat that actually gave birth to her. However this has not meant that Cc is actually anything like her mother. As it turns out they do not act or even look alike. Rainbow is a typical calico with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white, while Cc has a striped grey coat over white, Rainbow is reserved where as Cc is curious and playful. Rainbow is chunky. Cc is sleek.
So cloning won't bring back your prized pussy - however there are other reasons for cloning cats. Mark Westhusin, a member of the cloning team, said there were serious scientific reasons for cloning a cat 'Cats have a feline AIDS that is a good model for studying human AIDS'.
Human Cloning : Some people might be surprised to learn that human clones already exist. These clones aren't created in a lab, they occur naturally every day all over the world. In case you haven't guessed, twins are the naturally occurring human clones. They're genetically different from their parents, but they are genetically identical to each other.
Manufactured clones : Has anyone been successful in creating human clones? One group, who received some media attention, planned to clone a human by 2003. This group was led by Panayiotis Zavos, a former University of Kentucky Professor, and Severino Antinori, an Italian researcher.
Criminally irresponsible?
Not everyone thinks cloning humans is a good idea. A senior staff member at the Roslin Institute, one of the team which was responsible for creating Dolly, has said that human cloning projects are criminally irresponsible. Part of the reason for this is the low success rate in cloning. With Dolly there were 276 other attempts at creating a clone before they were successful. Some governments have already moved to ban research into human cloning. In the US there is a ban on federal funding for human cloning research, with discussion on a full ban on human cloning in the US being undertaken

No comments:

Post a Comment