• Question: -molecular science and genetics Will cloning become a standard medical procedure?

    Asked by urberturnstin to Cathal, Ciara, Emma, Michael, Sive on 11 Nov 2013. This question was also asked by mcgoldrick99.
    • Photo: Sive Finlay

      Sive Finlay answered on 11 Nov 2013:


      It depends on what type of cloning you’re talking about.
      There are 3 different types of cloning, each of which have very different applications. Gene cloning is when you produce new copies of specific DNA sequences. You can then insert those copies into other cells and genetically engineer those tissues to have specific properties. Gene cloning is already standard in many areas of research including those with medical applications.
      Reproductive cloning produces copies of whole animals and it’s the technique that was used to create the famous sheep Dolly and several other cloned animals. No one has succeeded in cloning humans and I don’t think we will ever reach a stage when it’s “standard” to produce a cloned copy of yourself to harvest body parts…
      Therapeutic cloning produces stem cells which can then be used to grow and repair body tissues. There are lots of ethical considerations about where these stem cells should come from and how they should be used. Therapeutic cloning has a great medical potential, particularly in areas such as organ transplant; imagine growing your own new kidney instead of waiting for a donor one to become available! There are still lots of technical and ethical issues to overcome to get to this goal but yes, at some stage, I think therapeutic cloning will become a standard medical procedure.

    • Photo: Emma Cahill

      Emma Cahill answered on 12 Nov 2013:

      As Sive said really well, I agree that the technology in already well in place to use cloning as a standard procedure but ethical issues about Human Cloning are debated a lot and will be for a long time. .
      I just wanted to add something that made me laugh when I heard about the famous “Dolly” the sheep ages ago. She was generated in Scotland I think, from cells taken from the mamillary gland of another sheep. As the mammary is actually the breast, the scientists names her after Dolly Parton because she is so “well-endowed”!