A few days ago America cloned a black ferret (creatures like the mongoose). The female it was created with died in 1988. DNA from extinct mammoths has also been found in Siberia. After that, the cloning discussion started again. The cloning of an organism has been an interesting story, both as a technology and as a realization of the limitless capabilities of science, from stimulating production to returning lost relatives. For the Navbharat Times Online, Shatakshi Asthana spoke with Thomas Hopung, Head of Evidence Best Toxicology at the Bloomberg School of Health at Johns Hopkins University in the United States and Professor Thomas Hartung, Director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, to learn more about how much cloning is a blessing and how much the curse.
What reliable technology?
Question: Ferret cloning is also expected to increase the population of endangered organisms and extinct creatures. What hope is there to see this method prevail in the future?
Answer: I have observed with great enthusiasm that stored DNA can regrow the species after 30 years, which reinforces the importance of biobanking this material from endangered species. It ranges from animals to plants where modern monoculture threatens biodiversity and where we might have the benefit of re-cultivating some variations or helping to find alternatives to medicine. Bringing back extinct organisms is the motive for many projects, usually not the complete DNA of extinct species, but a significant portion can be inserted into the closest species present today (such as mammoths and elephants).
Can the clones keep pace today?
Question: DNA from 1988 was used in Ferret’s case. Is there not a risk of cloning an organism before the evolutionary stage, when there is no need to model yourself according to the circumstances the species is currently facing?
Answer: If DNA is not stored properly, there is a risk of deterioration of its quality, but ideally DNA can be stored for a very long time, as we did a few weeks ago after 20 thousand years. mammoth DNA. Seen in case of recovery. The problem is, DNA is broken if it is not stored properly. Mammoth DNA cannot be used directly to clone mammoths. At the same time, the species evolves over time, but here we are talking about tens of hundreds of years when moldings began to arrive. The small gene pool is certainly a problem to increase the population of some animals to bring back extinct species.
How much science, how much cruelty?
Question: Much research needs to be done on this technology at this time, but being born with a clone pathology criticizes cruelty and disrespect for animals. For this, killing the embryo is also considered equal to killing a human being. What do you say?
Answer: Limited DNA quality or potential pathology as an effect of the process is a problem. Many will remember the Dolly sheep which was the first mammal to be cloned. It was cloned from an adult somatic cell by a nuclear transfer process. Dolly had to be euthanized forever in 2003 because she suffered from lung disease and arthritis at the age of 6.5. This breed lasts from 12 to 13 years. To my knowledge, there is no evidence to prove that this was due to the cloning process, and other sheep have not seen such a problem, but it required such a discussion.
What can human cloning be?
Question: People are very interested in cloning humans and there are many theories. How far has this research reached and will humans be cloned in the near future?
Answer: Human cloning has been debated for decades since the early science fiction inspired writers. Technically, this is quite possible and was developed after the early stages of the embryo were cloned in 2008. Researchers did not transfer it to a woman, but it is likely to be successful. In 2018, when genetically modified human children were born with the help of Jiankui in Chinese, there was a lot of controversy over breaking moral ideals that are still remembered today. We know that he was sent to prison for three years in a row. However, this technique is different but it shows how advanced these genetic technologies are and it is necessary to discuss the ethical and political aspects and to apply the limits from time to time.
(Chinese scientist Jiankui pictured)
How true is the hope of returning to the lost?
Question: There are many questions about cloning pets and humans in the future. Giving people hope that loved ones they have lost can be found which is supposed to keep them from moving forward in life and therefore is not good. There is also the fear that the organ has been smuggled out of the clone. How true do you think these fears are?
Answer: Animal cloning is quite common, because in cattle it makes animals genetically superior. Dog cloning is a pretty interesting example, as I saw a few years ago in two workshops based on the use of dogs in science. Some start-up companies tried to do business, but the problem was, the cloned dogs didn’t look like old dogs. In terms of genetic structure, dogs are hypervariable – this is the reason that dogs born together look so different from each other and many species of dogs are born in a short time. And it shows us that we are much more than our jeans.
My clone would look less like me than my twin. We get the material from our mother’s egg, the genetic material has programming, epigenetics, which we lose differently in natural reproduction and cloning, and most importantly, what our environment does to us. Last and probably the most important thing, if we can recreate the same body, then the experiences, memories and everything that makes us “us” cannot be shared. He will be close but he will have his own mind.