Cloning for medicine In the summer of 1995, the birth of two sheep changed genetic research and medicine forever, with seemingly endless possibilities in the medicines, and therapies that could result in the use of cloning and stem cell research. And although there are many breakthroughs that could come from this research however there is also a stigma surrounding this field that seems to scare the public in assuming this research is “evil” this of course comes from the mythical possibility of cloning humans or collecting genetic material from human fetuses.
Human cloning, although highly unofficial, is possible, and there are thousands of uses for it, from the medical organ donation to science and art. We’ve all wondered how Julius Caesar or Alexander the great would fare in the modern world, and many would like to listen to more songs from Elvis Presley. But is it ethical? What stands against cloning are arguments of a quite passionate nature. They are based upon questions of morality, of theology, of scientific restraint, of political positioning, and of the nature of humanity.
Of all the arguments against cloning, perhaps the most legitimate and directly applicable to those who are furthering the field, is the question of whether or not there should be a limit to the expansion of human knowledge. To this end, many groups have come forward to express concerns regarding whether or not cloning is tantamount to acting as God. In essence, what is being argued is whether or not we, as humans, have the right to study, modify, and create life, even with the purpose being to improve and extend that which is most precious to us.
The argument to reduce or restrain the development of cloning research is one which significant elements of the scientific community publicly oppose. Consider the opinion of the International Academy of Humanists who sees the efforts to ban cloning as “the Luddite option”. Indeed, bans on scientific advancement are, in essence, artificial barriers to the advancement of human knowledge. Ermer 2 The other, more frequent argument against cloning comes from the religions of the world. Yet, the counter to their argument is just as clear, in the majority of religious texts, God demonstrates his power by putting down the efforts to reach him (i.e. the Tower of Babel).
In the case of human cloning, we have actually recreated life, we have unlocked the final code, which is at the heart of our very physical existence and we are still here to talk about it. Could it be then that the religious argument would only hold up if, somehow, we were to unlock the secrets of the soul, that which ascends to Heaven, rather than of the body which remains behind and simply houses the soul? A fourth reason to consider cloning is the prevention and remedy of genetic diseases. Numerous genetic diseases and conditions that impair and even cause the death of those inflicted could benefit from cloning.
Disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, degenerative joint disease, and cystic fibrosis are just a few problems that may be curable if cloning and its technology are not banned. By combining genetic engineering with cloning, the breakthroughs could allow scientist some insight on how to perfect the treatment of fatal diseases. Ailing convalescents will be free of rejection by their own immune systems. In a rare degenerative disorder, syringomyelia, a syrinx, or fluid filled cavity forms a scar near or on the spinal cord.
Left untreated, the cavities cause unbearable pain as well as a gradual loss of sensory and motor skills. The traditional remedy involves an operation in which the spinal depressions are drained via an interposed tube. Doctors Richard Fessler, Paul Reier and Douglas Anderson of the University of Florida say that these tubes often become blocked and the patient requires more and more operations. The new techniques offer a far more favorable outcome. “During the experimental surgery, doctors first drain the syrinx and inject it with spinal cord cells taken from human embryos.
” The idea is to keep the passageways clear and prohibit them from refilling. Ian Wilmut, creator of the famous cloned sheep, Dolly, and his colleagues are working on better ways to treat cystic fibrosis, another life-threatening genetic disease. With cystic fibrosis, bodily secretions are unusually thick and gummy and clog the lungs, digestive tract and sweat glands. This causes a horde of problems for the patient. Babies diagnosed with cystic fibrosis are prone to lung infections, have difficulty breathing and eating. Numerous medications merely alleviate some symptoms, but most patients still do not live past the age of 30.
The final and perhaps most important reason to clone is for cancer, which is second to cardiovascular diseases in the leading causes of adult deaths in the United States. When cancer multiplies, it cannot be stopped without the use of strong medications. One of the most popular treatments for cancer is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy works well in killing cancer cells, but it also kills the healthy cells. “During treatment, I was in and out of the hospital, I reacted so poorly to chemotherapy. Sometimes I couldn’t even keep water down.
I lost almost ?of my body weight and had terrible sores on my mouth and skin. ” Recalls one cancer patient while on chemotherapy. Some believe it does more harm than good and some patients quit after only one or two chemotherapy sessions because the drugs make them violently ill. Traditional Ermer 3 Treatments including chemotherapy can guarantee remission rates up to 90 percent, but this newest technology, angiogenesis, an outcome of cloning, can guarantee a remission rate 99 percent for localized cancers . Even Dr. Folkman himself says, “I’ve been waiting for results like these my whole life.
” Cancer is the result of disordered and disorganized cell growth and is classified to the cell from which it originated. In the past, cancer was an automatic death sentence because medical professionals did not understand how to kill the cancer without killing the patient. Scientists still do not know exactly how cancer cells are formed and how they lose their differentiation. Cloning may at last be the key to understanding differentiation and cancer. One of the newest treatments for cancer is called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis was recently discovered by Dr. Moses Judah Folkman and seems like a promising cure for localized cancers and tumors.
Angiostatin and endostatin are injections that stifle blood vessel growth when injected into human cancers cloned in mice (Begley and Kalb). In other words, these injections cause cancers to shrink without harming the cancer-laden person with virtually no side effects. Folkman surmised that to grow, tumors need blood and send out an unknown substance that coaxes nearby blood vessels into sprouting new capillaries. Angiogenesis prohibits blood vessels from sprouting and the tumor is choked off. This new treatment has proven effective in human cancers grafted and cloned in both mice and rabbits with no apparent side effects.
Once bed-ridden cancer patients may be able to relish in a semi-ordinary lifestyle while undergoing angiogenesis injections as treatment. Another popular treatment for blood-specific cancers such as leukemia’s, myelomas and lymphomas is bone marrow or stem cell transplants. Transplanting these fluids from person to person can be just as risky as organ transplantation and the body can reject the solutions. Perchance if some of the healthy bone marrow or stem cells could be withdrawn from the patient himself, cloned in a controlled laboratory and given back to the patient intravenously rejection could be completely avoided.
With the mastery of cloning technology, essentially anything is possible. Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington have mapped the section of a gene identified with the hereditary form of prostate cancer. Locating these genes is one of the most important steps in treating cancers, especially the kinds that run in families, declares Dr. Elaine Ostrander, head of the genetics program at the Hutchinson center. As one can see, cloning could mean hope for measureless amounts of problems and diseases that exist.
The fears of rejecting a transplanted organ or substance such as bone marrow and stem cells could be eliminated in the minds of transplant candidates and cancer patients. Paralyzed victims could regain use of their ineffective limbs and gain better motor and sensory skills. Infertile couples could effortlessly have a healthy child of their own. Cataclysmic genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, which takes its victims young, could be cured and Ermer4 Possibly even prevented.
Even cancer could be cured if scientists work at understanding the process by which cancer cells lose their differentiation. The benefits of cloning outweigh the few religious beliefs that are holding back research that could benefit a large number of people. Some ethicists argue that if the persistence of cloning research continues, pretty soon whole human being clones will all be running around with no sense of identity. This is ridiculous. Of course, laws would be passed against this process and cloning would be strictly limited to treating medical conditions and helping couples have babies.
Cloning a whole identical human being just to harvest their organs or bone marrow is not exactly ethical. Cloning human beings would serve no audible purpose anyhow. In contrast however, “…if a sterile second-generation Holocaust survivor wanted a male heir to continue an otherwise doomed family line, the rabbi says he might advise the man to clone rather than use donor sperm”. Ethical issues play a role in almost any venture people become associated with. Controversial topics such as gun control, abortion, assisted suicide and cloning all have their advantages and disadvantages.
“Humans have devoted much thought to the idea of ‘playing God. The real crux here is how far do scientists go? Works Cited List Beal’s, G. , Reibstein, L. Newsweek (cover story) 10 Mar 1997: 58. Begley, S & Kalb, C. “One Man’s Quest to Cure Cancer. ” Newsweek. 18 May 1998. Cohen, P. “Dolly Helps the Infertile. World Wide Web. AOL 19 May 1999 [www. newscientist. com] “Human Cloning. ” World Wide Web. AOL. 24 Apr 1999. [www. humancloning. org] Ethical Issues on Cloning Our Best People. By Dan Talaparlu Cloning for Medicine. By Ian Wilmut.