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clonesWhat is cloning?

When discussing the topic, most people might first think of Dolly the sheep, the first animal in the world to be replicated by cloning or DNA manipulation in 1996.

However, before the arrival of Dolly, the basic process of cloning had been going on for decades.

The initial explosion in genetic research occurred in the 1970's, when scientists began employing the dynamic talent of plasmids, the simple bacteria that have since become the modern equivalent of the Xerox machine in the geneticist's lab.

In short, this new process dramatically sped-up the replication of genes to be stored in labs for further study around the world, and once scientists knew how to do replicate them, it was easy enough for any lab to cook up a batch.

But was it too easy?

Hello, Dolly

Dolly, the world's first
cloned sheep, with first
newborn lamb, Bonnie.

More milestones in genetic replication and reproductive cloning were to follow, most notably in 1996 when embryologist Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute in Scotland cloned Dolly the sheep from a single living cell from an adult ewe.

The sudden news awarded instant celebrity to Dolly, and the scientists who created her. It also spawned a public debate conjuring up a sci-fi Brave New World populated by factory-made living beings. The age-old question of "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" was now moot, since theoretically all scientists needed to produce a chicken was one, single cell.

The outcome proved so disturbing, in fact, that U.S. President Bill Clinton was forced to issue a moratorium on all federally-funded cloning research, just as governments around the globe questioned the unwieldy technology's potential for abuse.

Better living through cloning?

With the development of a new life form - from a single gene to a completely-cloned sheep - all sorts of fears were raised about genetically engineered animals arriving at the dinner table (even though selective breeding of farm animals had been going on for years) and even more unsettling — the very real concerns of human cloning looming in the not-too-distant future.

Around the many moral, religious, medical, political, and social implications arose a heated and public debate that still rages. What human rights might be awarded a cloned human, for example, if experiments go wrong? Adding to the controversy were sci-fi nightmares about cloning humans merely for organ harvesting (even though, today, it's far cheaper to grow individual organs than it is a whole human.)

Even among pet owners, social acceptance of cloning has been cool. Almost a decade since the cloning of Dolly the sheep, in 2005 Snuppy the dog was cloned at a Korean university, holding out promise for a booming industry aimed at bereaved pet owners. Since then, pet cloning has yet to catch on with even those who might able to afford the six figure price tag.

Therapeutic cloning & stem cells

Stem cell research
Stem cell research may
one day lead to curing
incurable diseases.

More popular among the medical community is the possibility of therapeutic cloning from stem cells promising to bring new hope and stunning potential for curing a variety of diseases & conditions in the years to come.

Research shows that cells taken from the body can be replicated or manipulated into a new type of cell, i.e., to replace red blood cells or repair or "regrow" vital organs in chronically or incurably ill patients.

While the ethical and religious controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research continues, the re engineering of skin cells as an alternative holds hope, at least for now, and new innovations in harvesting stem cells are being discovered everyday.

More about cloning around the Web

Learn more about cloning at top sites offering facts, information, and thought-provoking debates on the pros and cons of cloning technology, related images & video that help explain the process, discussions on its moral and religious implications, along with its bright promise for advances in curing disease and prolonging life ...

What is Cloning? - Check out a great introductory course from the University of Utah including a fact-filled explanation of what the process entails, a history of cloning technology, common myths, pros and cons, risks & benefits, with related images and video.

Cloning -'s portal to their most popular cloning stories includes an archive of feature articles on commercial production of cloned animals, human cloning, related legislation and ethical debates with more headline news from the recent past.


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