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In 1996, in Scotland, the first successful genetic animal cloning took place, giving birth to the world’s most famous sheep, Dolly, who created a huge debate on scientific benefit versus humane treatment and ethics. This argument was escalated further when Dolly died fairly young of a progressive lung disease.

As research into cloning progressed, research and discussion moved to "germinal choice." This would potentially allow for parents to select a specific set of genes that affect particular traits. For example, the child’s eye color, gender, and height could be "picked." Articles in many publications, including the periodical The Futurist, pointed this out, and discussed the possibility of gene selection for the prevention of genetic diseases.

Today, China is leading the field of cloning. They have also taken on the science of gene sequencing, taking it to an industrial scale and producing hundreds of cloned animals every year. With this, we ask: could the future of cloning take hold and open doors for the medical field? Will this lead to the development of replacement organs? Will someone find a way to slow down the aging process?

Certainly, medical science is eager and ready to take on these questions. However, it is still widely believed that the artificial cloning of humans will be unlikely to ever take place. (Although single parents, entrepreneurs, and other busy people joke that they would like it to happen sooner rather than later.)

If you wish to study the topic further, an ideal place to start is the ProQuest Health and Medical databases, or look through a LibGuide.

Stock, G. (2002) Choosing our genes, The Futurist, 36:4, pp. 17-23.

Image source: Wise, J. (1998) Dolly the sheep was a clone, Edinburgh scientist maintains, British Medical Journal, 316:7131, pp. 573

07 Aug 2014

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