Cloning of embryos brought us Dolly the Sheep and other animals including cows, pigs and cats have been cloned. That is one side of the story in the development of scientific techniques to advance understanding in embryos and cloning. Legislation in the UK has changed to allow more embryonic cloning using human embryos, generally replacing human with animal DNA.
Where will the science go and what is its intention? Ultimately, some say to recreate a human being in true genetic likeness to oneself, however, more likely it is to help create new organs to replace our old ones in true genetic likeness that would not be rejected like other transplanted organs. Finding cures for age old diseases as the ones that used to kill us are now banished to the anals of history or locked away in some laboratory fridge.
Ethics and morals play an important part, along with religion and science. Religion and science have always had a chequered history and even today the two mindsets struggle in each others existence. It should not be survival of the fittest as both have an important part in todays modern society. Without the challenge and advance of both we would be where we are at today. The ethics and use of human embryos bring into question some of the same arguments relating to the legalities of abortion and whether there is an age that an embryo feels pain, that it could develop into a foetus if not “destroyed” by cloning techniques looking to harvest stem cells – the building blocks of life.
What do people really think about it. Research is mixed. Some people are supportive where it relates to therapeutic cloning, to create organs or stem cells to cure rare diseases. This increases if the disease relates to one that is familiar or known for its cruel, painful death or debility such as parkinson’s disease. How can we deny scientific advantages in creating a cure for such ailments? Yes an embryo must be destroyed but it must be remembered that a massive number of natural embryos are lost in the womb that never develop into foetuses. The miracle of reproduction is as much of a miracle to science as it is to human creation.
Most people, however, have an issue with creating cloned copies of lost children or family members or creating “designer” babies with blond hair and blue eyes with an IQ of over 120 – such ideas are fairly propostrous but possible if the techniques and scientific evidence is to be believed.
Where are we now with cloning, well, already people around the world are getting to walk again as nerve stem cells are used to mend damaged spinal tissue and others have seen blood stem cells used to reduce leukaemia and other blood disorders. This is were science is surpassing itself. You may even remember the ear on the back of a mouse that could be transplanted to replace a human ear lost in an accident. However, the mouse has the same inevitable end as the embryo. Is it fair for an animal to suffer for our vanity – that is a debate in itself.
Whether you want to see your pet Cocker Spaniel resurrected or a new heart to replace yours after years of heavy drinking or smoking or should we just live and die as nature intended? You decide.