SOMATIC CELL NUCLEAR TRANSFER
Somatic cell nuclear transfer utilizes an egg cell and a body cell to create a viable embryo. As part of the studies of genetics and developmental biotechnology, somatic cell nuclear transfer is commonly known as cloning and has elicited a lot of debate and criticism from fundamentalists and bioethicists who feel it is a breech of ethical boundaries.
Also called cloning, this ...view middle of the document...
For most cloning procedures, the technician usually obtains a good skin sample.
The other type of cell required to complete the cloning process is known as the egg cell. It is collected from a healthy female donor of the same species as that being cloned. Also known as the egg donor, the female donates one egg cell that gets used for the procedure. Additionally, collection of egg cells from the donor is not as easy as harvesting skin samples from the genetic donor.
After obtaining both cells needed for cloning, the lab scientist strips the egg cell of its nucleus and discards it. This renders the egg cell empty from a genetic perspective as the nucleus is the part that houses its genetic makeup. He/she then inserts the genetic donor egg into the ‘empty’ egg cell and stimulates their fusion with a precise electric charge. The result is a fusion of the egg and donor cells. This electric stimulation initiates cell division similar to what happens when a sperm and egg are used in conventional reproduction. After a few days of the division process, the cells develop into a blastocyst that is essentially an embryo. The embryo transfer specialist implants this blastocyst into a receptive mother’s uterus to provide it with the best environment for embryonic development. After the resulting pregnancy completes its term, the surrogate mother births an organism that is identical to the genetic donor.
Applications of cloning: Stem cell research
Even as the battle between cloning proponents and bioethicists rages, this technological innovation has found use in two important albeit controversial medical applications. The first is reproductive cloning. Although there is no human cloning documented to date, this application faces a myriad of challenges ranging from technical difficulties in non-human trials to the ever present moral and ethical issues. However, the technology promises great benefits in the treatment of diseases associated with mutation and malformed mitochondrial DNA.
The second application, known as stem cell research, is less challenged from an ethics perspective. In addition, morally speaking, use of cloning to identify and replace problematic or diseased tissues in the host’s body also faces less moral objections since it is less unethical compared to human cloning. Essentially, the process involves obtaining pluripotent cells from a cloned embryo. Fitzgerald-Hayes & Reichsman (2010) state how” these cells as genetically mapped to the donor organism they were sourced from with the possibilities for creation of patient-specific, pluripotent cells that could offer solutions in the treatment of diseases and other problematic human conditions are immense” (pg. 276).
New application of stem cell research