Genetic Cloning, one of the most controversial topic of medical science, is favoured by some modern sections considering it as having lifesaving potential whereas some religious and orthodox sections of the society do not approve it, opposing the technology as usurping God’s role in creation.
If we talk about transplantation in medical field, the first thing that comes to our mind is the transplantation of organs in human body. But we should be aware that when it comes to patients who require transplantation of a particular organ, it requires proper match of the tissues of the organ of the donor with that of the patient. In maximum cases the patient’s immune system rejects the transplanted organ as the immune system recognizes the organ as non-self and hence shows harmful reactions. And even when the organ is accepted the patient has to depend on various immunosuppressive medicines for lifetime.
These issues can come to an end with an improved quality of genetic cloning in the future. Now, how can genetic cloning be related with transplantation and its issues?
We can take a donated human egg and remove its genetic material and replace it with the genetic material of the desired person who needs the organ (e.g. Heart). The egg would then be stimulated to begin dividing. What we have at this stage is the human clone. If it keeps growing, as per theory it would be an exact copy of the desired person. But, instead of letting it grow, doctors must extract a special cell called a stem cell, which has a natural ability to transform into a heart cell or a liver cell or whatever cell we need. In this case, the idea would be to stimulate the stem cell to become a heart cell and grow a new heart. Now, this heart would be a perfect match with the actual heart of the patient and hence will have no chance of rejection.
This can be the best way to let the world come out of organ shortage. Scientists could create new organs of the desired genetic material to grow the desired organ for several hundred thousand people all over the world. Hence, many scientists and certain sections of the society having broad minded thinking would accept it. They believe on the fact that studying signal transduction along with genetic manipulation within the early embryo has the potential to provide answers to many developmental diseases and defects.
But certain religious conceptual sections of the society might not accept it in a positive way as the embryo the doctors would use to extract the desired cells will then be destroyed.
Many people believe that an embryo represents a human life and creating a clone and then destroying it is tantamount to murder. Some people also find genetic manipulation to be something dangerous and unsafe. Opposition of therapeutic cloning has connections with abortion debates. Also, people believe that reproductive cloning could be prone to abuse. There are several obstacles in the field of genetic cloning.
Coming to reality, can a human individual be cloned? The correct answer is, strictly speaking, NO. What is cloned are the genes, not the individual; the genotype, not the phenotype. The technical obstacles are immense even for cloning a human’s genotype. The character, personality, and the features other than the anatomical and physiological that make up the individual are not precisely determined by the genotype and hence cannot be cloned. Humans are not cloned, but some mammals like mice, rats, goats, cows, pigs can be effectively cloned. However, these cloned animals can undergo serious health issues including gross obesity, various organ dysfunction, early death and many more.
For now, the proposal to enhance the human genetic endowment by genetic cloning of individuals is not warranted. Genomes can be cloned, but not individuals. But, in future, therapeutic cloning will definitely bring enhanced possibilities of organ transplantation, tissue healing and other health benefits. It is strongly believed that the low rate of cloning success will definitely improve in the future.