The word cloning is obviously related with a replica image of an animal or a human being or simply a living object. It is the impact created by the film industry. The outcome of the very first cloning experiment made in Scotland was called Dolly, none other than the Sheep! Cloning has come a long way over the past few years. In fact, what we considered cloning has little relevance with the term cloning that has evolved now!
Therapeutic Cloning – A Regenerative Medicine
Therapeutic cloning is the latest buzz in the regenerative medicine, a part of the stem-cell research arena.
Therapeutic cloning is not something that involves something fancy to create a copy of a human being. Rather it is a kind of new age therapy to cure innumerable diseases. Therapeutic cloning refers to transfer of nucleus into an egg. The body cell is mixed with an egg cell to create an embryo, which create stem cells!
However, many confuse this process as reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning is not something like insemination. There is no fertilization of sperms, not implanting an ovum into uterus, and not a cure for infertility. This is purely intended to cure diseases with genes.
Therapeutic cloning – The Process of Creating Copies of Cells
Cloning is generally considered a therapy to cure diseases. In case of therapeutic cloning, the nucleus of a cell is replaced. The nucleus of an unfertilized egg is removed and it is replaced by a nucleus from any cell, probably a skin cell. This process is termed as Somatic Cell Nucleus Transfer, the name says it all. It is nothing but cloning the DNA.
Reproductive cloning is similar to reproducing a replica of a living organism, which is disapproved uniformly.
Therapeutic Cloning as a Potential Therapy for Diseases
Although relatively a very new technique, which still needs to be developed appears quite potential to treat and cure diseases. The procedure has been developed in animals by researchers. Based on the end-results and outcomes of the analysis, it is strongly believed that therapeutic cloning has potential to cure complicated and degenerative diseases. There is no surprise, that therapeutic cloning is categorized under regenerative medicine! Yes, it can cure inherited disorders, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic injuries and many other degenerative conditions.
Besides these conditions, therapeutic cloning could be a boon in cases of organ transplant. Irrespective of the fact that the donated organ matches with the tissue of the recipient, the recipient is exposed with the risk of organ rejection. Stem cell implant along with organ transplantation reduces and may even eliminate the risk of organ rejection. Also, it eliminates the need for using the immune-suppressants.
The Possible Problems and Difficulties of Therapeutic Cloning
Although the research and the assessment about Somatic Cell Nucleus Transfer are promising, there are a few problems associated with it. The major problem is creating a feasible egg for transfer of nucleus. It is not an easy task to insert nucleus into an egg, because the infused nucleus is quite poor to blend into a new environment. So, several attempts are required for a perfect infuse.
Deconstruction of an embryo to extract the stem cells has a lot of controversy and the morality of this process is being questioned. The embryo is almost a human being, the extraction of stem cells by deconstructing the egg means deconstructing a human. Since the process of therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning has similar procedures, the therapeutic cloning may get transformed by scientists into creating a human clone.
With strict policies, rigid regulations and monitored process, therapeutic cloning can act as prospective approach to cure the diseases that has no obvious treatment in the current era.
Possibilities of Organ Cloning
The height of therapeutic cloning would be certainly organ cloning. Extracting stem cells by cloning DNA is a tedious process as mentioned above. If organ cloning is made possible, it would be a milestone in the industry, cherished until the end of mankind. Cloned organs would be a solution for most of the diseases. It eliminates the risk of waiting for an organ donor and rejection of transplanted organs. If we have access to cloned organs with matching tissues and DNA, there is no need for artificial organs too!
Using the stem cells to clone an organ has a long way to go. Currently, the researchers are working on harvesting stem cells to clone an organ.
The research on extraction of organ cloning reached an advanced stage in animals. Animals, especially pigs are genetically modified to get suitable organs for humans. Pigs create the organs that has close match with human organs. This process is referred as xeno-transplantation. It is a difficult process as the reproductive rate is very low. In medical as well as technical concepts a huge debate is going on examining the possibilities and consequences of organ cloning as well as Xenotransplantation.