You live in a world where you can clone animals, flirt with virtual girls and play with robot dolls, which are all harder to distinguish from humans. Returning home with a gift for your daughter, you will find a copy of yourself. Your clone, who took your place and took away your life. If the first sentence is completely consistent with reality, then the following is the plot of the movie “6th Day” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Feel like this oozes between reality and fantasy?
In January of this year, scientists of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported on the successful cloning of primates by the same method of nuclear transplantation, which already cloned legendary Dolly lamb. She died back in 2003, and many of my peers watched news reports about this event with undisguised astonishment, ecstasy and a bit of fear.
Cloned lamb. Whether a joke! In adolescent consciousness, it turned into something comparable with an alien cyborg, the eighth wonder of the world in an organic shell. The Internet in those years was issued extremely limited and expensive portions, and therefore digging up information about the animal was not easy, on TV they spoke quite obscurely and vaguely …
In general, since then science has not frozen above the corpse of a cloned sheep that has become a world celebrity. Mankind has advanced from experiments with tadpoles to primates and human embryos. But first things first.
Who are the clones?
Clones are obtained as a result of cloning, however surprising this may sound. To begin with, even identical twins can be safely called clones, because they developed from the same fertilized egg. Clones are also cells of multicellular organisms, and even plants that are produced as a result of vegetative (asexual) reproduction: cuttings, tubers, bulbs, rhizomes, etc. This is an ancient instrument of plant breeding, due to which we eat tolerable vegetables and fruits.
But if everything is clear with plants, then you can not multiply a person or a cow with a bulb. From our parents, we get on a set of genes, these sets are different, as dads with moms are different. And that’s why we do not turn out like our father or mother. Each of us is unique! From a genetic point of view, of course. And it’s wonderful: the more different people, the wider the diversity of the species and the stronger it is protected from any shocks of the environment.
How to create a clone using Dolly lamb
Dolly was born on July 5, 1996 in Scotland. It happened in the laboratory of Jan Wilmut and Keith Campbell at the Roslin Institute. She was born as the most ordinary sheep. But her mother was dead at the time of her birth. Dolly is gone from the nucleus of the somatic cell of the udder of his genetic mother. These cells were frozen in liquid nitrogen. A total of 227 eggs were used, 10% of which were up to the state of embryos as a result. But only one managed to survive.
He grew up in the body of his surrogate mother, into which he fell through the transplantation of the nucleus of the cell from the donor into the egg cell of his future carrier freed from the cytoplasm nucleus. A dual set of chromosomes was obtained only from her mother, whose genetic copy was.
Dolly lived like a normal sheep. True, most of the time she was locked up and away from her kinsmen. Still a laboratory specimen. By the age of six, the sheep developed arthritis, and then retroviral lung disease. Usually, these animals live up to 10-12 years, but Dolly decided to put to sleep halfway, which caused a lot of rumors in the media.
Some scientists, like the media, assumed that cloning could be the cause of the early death of the sheep. The matter is that as a base material for Dolly the cell of an adult with the already shortened telomeres was chosen. These are the endings of the chromosomes, which are shortened with each division. This process is called one of the main causes of aging.
Subsequent study of the skeleton of the experimental and comparing it with more modern clones showed that Dolly had no predisposition for arthritis. At the very least, the risks were the same as those of normal adult sheep.
Whatever it was, but the cloning of the animal raised a number of moral and ethical questions about this procedure. In 2003, scientists assumed that up to full-fledged human cloning remained a dozen years. Of course, they were too optimistic, because we have a lot of work ahead of us.
Let’s clone the dinosaur!
One of the promising applications of cloning is the opportunity to revive long-lost species of animals, as well as those that gradually disappear under the gait of scientific and technological progress. But, unfortunately, to return to life the dinosaurs is not yet possible. Scientists mainly find their petrified remains, in which there are not even droplets of organic material with genetic material.
Some hope was given to researchers discovering in the bones of dinosaurs proteins. But the collagen found in the remains of the tyrannosaur was the same as in ostriches, which put an end to any further experiments. Revive such animals will only come when we find a perfectly preserved and full-fledged genetic material. You understand how high these chances are millions of years after the death of the dinosaurs.
But okay, let the scientists do it on some of the Lands in numerous parallel universes. What’s next? What about the egg? Where can we find a closely related species that can tolerate future dinosaurs? And will they be able to exist in the modern environment? Some people do not tolerate a rearrangement in the room, and poor dinosaurs will have to breathe air, which is 21% saturated with oxygen instead of the usual 10-15% 10 million years ago.
And so it’s worth looking at the species closer to us in the time line. For example, the last wonderful dodo bird left this cruel world as early as the 17th century, but even schoolchildren know about it (not sure what is today). All thanks to Lewis Carroll’s caricature self-portrait from Alice in Wonderland.
Several specimens of this bird in the form of stuffed animals have been preserved in various museums. Their soft tissues were also preserved, and among the relatives there is a Nicobar pigeon, which could breed the dodo. However, while all this is just talking.
Among the known, but unfortunately, failed attempts to reanimate the deceased species is the Pyrenean ibex, which disappeared relatively recently – in 2000. In 2009, his clone was born, who lived only seven minutes.
Why do I need a clone?
While in theory, but not always in practice, two types of human cloning are discussed: therapeutic and reproductive. The first involves cloning cells of certain tissues (not organs) for transplant purposes. The tissues thus obtained will not be rejected by the patient’s body, because they are inherently his own. Useful thing.
How it works? The cell of the patient is taken, the nucleus of which is transplanted into the cytoplasm (internal environment) of the egg, which has already lost its nucleus. This ovum multiplies, develops into an early embryo five days old. Then, in the Petri dishes, the stem cells obtained are transformed into tissues that are necessary for scientists and physicians.
Who might need a reproductive clone? To people who have lost their loved ones and want to return them in this way? But clones are not born with the right age. This happens only in science fiction.
Cloning has too many unresolved ethical issues. And working with embryos, even at the earliest stage of their development, leads to waves of criticism of geneticists. In particular, on the part of religious organizations. Still, they can not approve the artificial creation of life and likening to the gods.
In addition, human reproductive cloning is expressly prohibited in many countries of the world and threatens with criminal liability. Yes, methods worked out on animal methods exist and scientists do not see any obstacles to human cloning, except for moral ones. However, the problem is that animals are not individuals. No, I love and respect animals (not all), but the fact remains that they are embedded in our digestive chain. And no one asks the clone of the cow for its opinion on the frying of steaks.
Reproductive human cloning suggests that it will not be a simple set of organs, but over the years it will form into a personality that can radically differ from the original (this is demonstrated, in particular, by twins). And the legal status of the clone will be uncertain: what kind of rights and duties does it have? How should he interact with his original? For whom will he be a grandson or heir?
As for therapeutic cloning, it is also banned in many countries around the world. Although for scientific purposes, an exception can always be made.
It was about cloning a person and the UN. Negative. In the Declaration on Human Cloning from 2005, the organization stated that the application of the achievements of the biological sciences should serve to alleviate suffering and promote the health of the individual and of humanity as a whole. The document calls for the prohibition of all forms of cloning of people to the extent that they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life.