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Cloning for Medical Purposes

The Paper - A Simple SummaryStem Cells - The BasicsCloning for Medical PurposesThe Cloning ControversyVocabulary - Helpful TermsAdditional LinksMeet Group 1

The scientific paper we dissected proves the ability to reprogram somatic cells back into an embryonic stem-cell-like state, where they can then be programmed to differentiate into the cell type of choice. This article alludes to the use of cloning for medical purposes. This type of cloning technique is surely welcomed by many, seeing that it bypasses the ethical controversy surrounding using embryonic stems cells for cloning purposes. With this technique, stem cells are not derived from what can be considered a potential human, but rather a  human that already exists and one whom will not be killed nor harmed in the collecting of stem cells. This is because the cells one already has which have already differentiated will be manipulated back into being a stem cell (what it was before it was told to be the cell that it became).

A very early zygote consisting of only eight cells

courtesy of Amy Shah

The medical application of this achievement, benefiting an immense amount of people, is the therapeutic use of cloning. It has already been shown that stem cells can be used to generate tissues and cells for specific areas of the human body. This can potentially allow for customized transplantation therapies and the repairing of damaged or diseased tissues in the body by replacing them with suitable cloned cells. The idea behind this is that cells taken from a sick human can be turned back into cells with a stem-cell like state and be encouraged to grow into cells to replace the damaged body part of the body. The possibility of full organ transplantation has also been tossed around. In this case, the cells will grow to become a complete organ which can then be transplanted. The lesser probability of the organ being rejected is an assumed benefit of cloning, for the tissues or organ would be a perfect match to the patient rather than having to find the most compatible outsider donor. The bodyís immune system would recognize the DNA and tissue or organ as its own, instead of deeming it as foreign and rejecting it. Other diseases that could possibly benefit from this included degenerative diseases such as Alzheimerís, Parkinsonís, diabetes, and heart disease, to name a few. The hope is that cells can be generated to cure these types of diseases where one cell has gone wrong. The growth and transplant of new nerve cells would help with Parkinsonís, the growth cells to produce more insulin for diabetics, and new heart muscle for those suffering from heart disease.