Blog post #5 – Should we clone humans?

Hello everyone!

My inquiry question: Should we clone humans?

In this round of research, I will be looking into the disadvantages of cloning as well as the ethical issues! 

There have been quite a few successful creations of various mammalian species, however, researchers still do not have a full understanding of how the techniques of cloning works on the subcellular and molecular level[1]. Even though the overall efficiency and safety of reproductive cloning in mammals has increased significantly over the past few years, it is still not entirely a safe process [1].

Disadvantages: 

  • Cloning a human can result in the clone having genetic problems and complications in the long run [2]
  • Increase of extinction probability for the more people who are cloned (a much higher increase of death by a virus or a pathogen) [2]
  • A biological disorder such as cancer [2]
  • Premature ageing: There is a concern in the risk of premature ageing because of the shortened telomeres[1]. For instance, Dolly the sheep aged soon after she was cloned [2]. Researchers examined Dolly and were able to see the length of her telomeres [3]. Telomeres are caps at the end of each strand of DNA which are found on each end of each chromosome which become shorter as you grow older [4]. When the telomeres become very short, the cell will die[1]. What researchers found was that Dolly’s biological age surpassed her chronological age [3]. Meaning, her cells looked like they were much older and have been dividing much longer than she was alive [3]. This concern is that mammals will inherit the shortened telomeres from their older donor [3]. Which will affect premature ageing and a shortened lifespan as the result [1].

Firstly, scientists are currently not pursuing cloning humans as they believe reproductive cloning is unsafe [1]. It has been argued that it would simply be wrong to impose such significant health risks on humans [1]. Most scientists believe that the process of human cloning will result in very high failure rates [5]. A viable clone will most likely suffer as they will have an increased risk of genetic formation, shortened lifespan, or even cancer [5].

Next, the process of cloning is very risky as well as one of the biggest misconceptions that the public has about this research is that someone being cloned will not be the same as his or her donor [5]. They may look alike as they have identical genomes, internally, but they are completely two different individuals [5]. As humans, we grow up in an environment and we have many experiences throughout our life which defines us and shapes us as who we are today [5]. Everyone will not experience the exact same experience as someone else and the environment may be slightly different [5]. This is why clones will physically look alike and will have exact genomes, however, they will be two very different individuals due to different experiences and the environment they grow up in [5]. For instance, natural clones – identical twins – are not identical as they have the same genome, but they have different personalities, character, styles, interests and so much more [5]!

Understanding that clones will not be identical in many ways as their donor, it has been pointed out that what is threatened by cloning someone is not the individual’s identity or their individuality, but instead their sense of identity and individuality which may reduce their autonomy (person’s ability to act on their own interests and values [6]) [1]. So even though the clone will have their own unique identity, they may experience more difficulties in their identity than if they had not been a clone [1]. A clone may start to feel constantly under pressure to have to live up to expectations of their donor or may get this feeling of having to lead ‘a life in the shadow’ of their donor [1]. Or perhaps live up to the expectations for a clone who was created solely as a ‘replacement’ for a deceased child [1]. In that case, the clone may start to feel the effect of the development of their identity and affect their self-esteem due to parents expecting the clone to be their child in which they have lost [1].

There are ethical and moral concerns that exist around the topic of cloning humans [5]. If the technology used to clone humans were legal, it could be abused and allow eugenic selections with enhancements in human traits [5]! That would mean there would be more ethical and moral concerns as now scientists will be able to improve the human species by mating humans selectively with these specific desirable hereditary traits [5]! The practice of cloning humans would not only violate a person’s right to individuality, but would also be reducing the diversity in the human gene pool [5]! Cloning humans would lead to scientists being able to try and find a cure to diseases and help many infertile couples [5]! However, it seems that cloning has a lot of controversy ethically and even medically [5]. 

Lastly, for anyone interested in this interesting misconception about cloning:

  • Cloning will produce a baby and not an adult[ 5]. For instance, if you were to clone a loved one who passed away, most likely, you would want them to be your age when replicating, but that is impossible [5]. To clone now, you would have to wait years for the clone to catch up and grow up. Unless cloned at birth, as of right now, there is no way to get a clone the same age as you currently are [5].

Through these three rounds of research, I have explored the definition of cloning, the advantages and disadvantages of cloning, and the ethical issues. We can weigh the options of whether it is a good idea to clone humans! As of right now, it does not appear that we are cloning humans as many scientists believe it is unsafe and that they just do not have a full understanding of how the techniques of cloning works on the subcellular and molecular level.

However, this does leave me to ask you guys, in your opinion, should we clone humans?

Thank you so much for reading my third round of research! I hope you enjoyed reading about human cloning! 

References: 

[1]https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cloning/#HumRepClo

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5109382/

[3]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/07/26/dolly-the-sheep-died-young-but-her-clones-seem-perfectly-healthy-as-they-turn-9/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/

[5] https://funginstitute.berkeley.edu/news/op-ed-the-dangers-of-cloning/

[6]https://www.ifamilystudy.eu/what-is-autonomy-and-why-does-it-matter/

10 Replies to “Blog post #5 – Should we clone humans?”

  1. Hi Karina,

    Wow! I learned a lot in a single post! I really liked the organization in research and how you transitioned into several different topics – It was very easy to follow!

    In answer to your question, cloning, I believe is portrayed quite differently in cinema and pop culture. As you mentioned, it is still a relatively new process and I think with the risks associated with it, scientists must do more research before cloning is brought to the forefront of the science world.

    This also made me question if cloning did surpass the standards of health and safety, who should have access to this procedure? Who should have the right to clone or be cloned? What do you think?

    Something you may have heard about is the doctor in China who genetically altered baby twins a couple of years ago. This case had much controversy and also referenced the conversation to cloning. Here’s a link: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/chinese-scientist-who-produced-genetically-altered-babies-sentenced-3-years-jail

    Good luck with your celebration of learning! I have no doubt it will be great!
    Rase

  2. I think this is really cool on how it would produce a baby and not an adult, like it has to start from the beginning. Very interesting.

  3. Hello Karina!!
    A great round of research! It is well formatted as well as detailed. Your ideas were easy to read and the picture added entertainment. I have learned a lot more than I can imagine from your round of researches as I found cloning an interesting topic. I have some questions for you:

    1) what made you interested in choosing this topic as your research topic?

    2) What are your personal Opinions about Cloning humans or animals?

    3) If cloning humans were possible, would the clones have the same rights as non-cloned humans? Would they have a soul or an identity outside of being a clone?

    Regards,
    Lokshana 🙂

  4. Dear Karina,

    Your efforts throughout this amazing inquiry project are evident – great work! You have gotten to in-depth with the various types of cloning and your references are very useful.The point about ‘Cloning humans would lead to scientists being able to try and find a cure to diseases and help many infertile couples’ is quite an interesting research finding!

    I have two questions for you as you inch onto your celebration of learning piece:

    1. After your research rounds and this inquiry project, do you see yourself working in a lab or working on human anatomy?

    2. What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about human cloning thus far?

    Cheers, and look forward to your celebration of learning!

    Warm Regards,

    Galicia

  5. Hello Karina,
    Wow! This is a very interesting topic. And it is focusing on the current issues in the field of science.
    Your incite on the clone and donor not being alike due to environmental influence is true. It is expressed by this equation ( phenotype= genotype + environment). Where the genotype is their genetic composition which is similar and the phenotype is the observable characteristics of the individuals.
    I recently watched this movie(Orphan Black ) on Netflix it shows a cloning experiment and how it affects the lives of the clones. I think it will be interesting for you because it focuses on the negative impacts of cloning.
    Also check- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1796746/
    and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187704281302908X/pdf?md5=1b60a1cc84ea8996330e248eafb86aa5&pid=1-s2.0-S187704281302908X-main.pdf
    Having said that I still think cloning is a great milestone for science and medicine if ethically regulated.
    Looking forward to learning more from you.

  6. Hey Karina, I really enjoyed reading your post! Because I am not too well versed with the subject matter, a lot of the info that you mentioned in this post was new to me and was therefore very interesting. For instance, I had no clue about some of the disadvantages of cloning that you brought up, such as an increased probability of extinction and premature ageing. I also didn’t think about the fact that a clone couldn’t be the same as the donor, as the things we experience shape us and will never identical for any two people, contrary to popular belief. On top of this, I never thought of the age of clones. Due to my consumption of science-fiction, I believed cloning to produce a one-to-one copy of the donor, yet I now know that in reality cloning would produce a baby, not an adult. Great job!

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