Therapeutic cloning is a process of replicating cellular regeneration that happens in the human body naturally with identical genetic structures of the host. In simple words, the process involves removing the nucleus from a somatic cell in the human body, injecting the same nucleus into an egg that has not yet fertilized and whose nucleus is already removed and this egg with the new nucleus is cultured for four to five days to form embryonic stem cells. These embryonic stem cells are of the same DNA as that of the host of the cell whose nucleus was obtained and these can duplicate or divide and thus grow as normal embryonic stem cells in the human body.
Therapeutic cloning doesn’t create identical humans. That is reproductive cloning or what is referred to as just ‘cloning’. Cloning has been banned in many countries but therapeutic cloning is very much prevalent. Widespread research and experimentations are underway to evolve therapeutic cloning. As with any medical or genetic experimentation, there are certain merits and potential demerits of a particular concept. Here are the therapeutic cloning pros and cons.
Therapeutic Cloning Pros
1. Therapeutic cloning effectively helps with cellular regeneration.
In other words, damaged cells can be revived. A person suffering from cellular degeneration can have the problem resolved. In effect, people suffering from organ failures or any kind of damage to vital organs can find a cure. For now, most people look for transplants and there is always a scarcity of organs. Therapeutic cloning can help in rejuvenating cellular generation and growth. In the process, it can help cure renal problems or damages to kidneys, liver, tissues and many other quintessential elements of the human body.
2. Therapeutic cloning is carried out using the host or patient’s DNA.
Thus, there is no fear of rejection of the organ or tissue replacement procedures. Organ transplants are difficult particularly because of this reason. It is not always easy to find an exact match, be it blood group or other compatibility factors. Therapeutic cloning is thus safe, surefire and it wouldn’t have unforeseen problems as is the case with organ rejections.
3. Therapeutic cloning is independent of wait times and doesn’t rely on uncertainties.
People needing organs will have to depend on donors and the entire infrastructure or network available that would bring the required organ in a usable state to the recipient and in time. With therapeutic cloning, a patient would know exactly how long one would have to wait, this can ensure proper treatment and the patient would certainly benefit from an early treatment. In case of organ transplants, many patients suffer worsening symptoms and may not even be alive by the time the organ becomes available.
4. Therapeutic cloning is not just a remedy but also a preventive treatment.
When there is any suspicion of irregular cellular activity or someone is vulnerable to particular kinds of medical problems, therapeutic cloning can be used to replace those damaged cells or tissues. There are many diseases that can be prevented or at least controlled with the help of therapeutic cloning.
5. Recipients of organs have to undergo surgery.
Therapeutic cloning doesn’t require surgery.
6. Offers a new range of solutions.
Studying regeneration of organs, solutions to conditions like diabetes and Parkinson’s are becoming a realm of possibility with the help of therapeutic cloning.
Therapeutic Cloning Cons
1. Mature or adult cells do not have the same attributes as the stem cells.
Therapeutic cloning is most rewarding with stem cells which are not widely available. Those being born today can still have their stem cells preserved but those who are already adults did not have such a facility and the quantum of stem cells available in an adult body is not always sufficient enough for therapeutic cloning.
2. It is possible that the cells developed through therapeutic cloning would mutate and can end up causing tumors.
For the process to be effective to cure any particular disease, the cloning process would need millions of eggs. It is not possible to have millions of eggs from adult bodies and no process exists which can duplicate the eggs or clone the eggs at such a massive level.
3. Therapeutic cloning is expensive and it is certainly beyond the realm of affordability for most people.
The process of obtaining eggs is also costly and it is quite painful for a woman. There isn’t a massive egg bank right now which is why this type of medical procedure is stunted and is unlikely to become very commonplace in the near future. Therapeutic cloning may remain in the experimental phase or just as a rare specialization for some time.
4. There is an ethical and religious aspect as well.
Many people criticize therapeutic cloning calling it interference, playing with nature or acting against the wishes of god.