Along with the development of science, there are more and more ways to get children. One of them is the embryo cloning method. This medical procedure is closely related to IVF, which aims to produce new individuals with identical physical and anatomical conditions as the cell donors that are developed.
Besides the pros and cons, cloning itself is not something new, considering that this process has been successfully carried out to produce identical dolly sheep in the 1995 era. However, what about embryo cloning in humans?
To make it clear, let’s take a closer look at embryo cloning, starting from the definition, types and how it works. Here’s more.
What is Embryo Cloning?
Cloning is a term used to refer to producing one or more individual humans, animals, or plants, either in whole or in part, from genes to have identical individuals.
The meaning of the word cloning itself comes from the Greek language (kloon), which means bud. Talking about cloning in humans, this procedure is relatively more accurately referred to as artificial twinning, considering the process is carried out by imitating the mechanism of growth and development of natural twins.
The history of cloning was first attempted in the 1950s, using sheep as experimental targets. This procedure is done by taking the cell nucleus in the sheep’s body, and then the cell is inserted into the layer of the sheep’s egg so that it can be fertilized.
Types of Cloning
It is known that three types of cloning can be done for humans until now. The first is adult DNA cloning, the second is therapeutic cloning, and the last is embryonic cloning. Here is a full explanation of each type of cloning.
1. Embryo Cloning
As we know, embryo cloning is a medical term used to produce two or three monozygotic identically. This procedure has been recorded since decades ago. Robert J. Stillman and colleagues released the first publication related to embryo cloning from George Washington Hospital in the United States.
The general way of embryo cloning procedure is by transferring one or more cells from an embryo that has undergone fertilization. The results are then optimized to develop into several identical duplicate embryos.
One attempt to clone embryos was carried out by taking as many as 17 human embryos, considered genetically defective and dead for several days. The embryo taken from the ovum fertilized by the two sperm was successfully separated from the ovum until it was ready to be cloned.
2. Adult DNA Cloning
The next type of cloning is adult DNA cloning. The main goal of this procedure is to produce duplicate individuals that are identical to existing living things.
It works by taking DNA samples from existing living things then inserting them into the ovum as a substitute for the previous DNA cells. After the ovum has successfully gone through the fertilization process, the pre-embryo is implanted into the womb to develop into a new individual as desired.
3. Embryonic Cloning
The procedure and workings of therapeutic cloning are more or less similar to adult DNA cloning. The system works by transferring stem cells from pre-embryo to produce tissue or whole organs to transplant a person through DNA.
The benefit behind the creation of this type of therapeutic cloning is to produce copies of healthy organs and tissues from a person to be transplanted into sick individuals.
By carrying out this procedure, medically, we can produce unlimited organ donors to save human lives. The dangers and risks of this cloning technique are not too big, so there are not many rejections from related patients.
Difference between Embryo Cloning and Nuclear Transfer Cloning
Must you wonder about the difference between embryo cloning and nuclear transfer cloning? Scientifically, the two can be said to be different. The procedure is carried out for nuclear transfer cloning using ovum and somatic cells. As the name implies, the zygote from this activity is produced by transplanting the nucleus into the ovum cell.
Meanwhile, embryo cloning is done by using sperm and ovum cells. The zygote formed by this medical procedure occurs through in vitro fertilization.
The difference between embryo cloning and nuclear transfer cloning can also be seen from the final result. The individual resulting from the embryo cloning process has the same characteristics as the donor parent who donated the egg. Meanwhile, the nuclear transfer cloned individual has the same characteristics as the somatic cell donor parent.
An example of nuclear cloning activity is a dolly sheep, while embryo cloning is an IVF procedure.
Advantages of Embryo Cloning
Although it has not been successful and still faces many obstacles, cloning human embryos are believed to have a positive impact in the future. One of the advantages of applying embryo cloning biotechnology is that it can make it easier for couples who want to have children.
If embryo cloning technology has shown signs of success in the future, women who are challenged to get children can use this procedure in the IVF process.
The way is to implant more than one embryo into the uterus, cloned from the wife’s egg cells and sperm cells formed from sexual intercourse so that the chances of having children will be even greater.
In addition to optimizing the IVF process, another advantage of applying embryo cloning biotechnology is that it can determine the number of children you want to have, adjust the interval between births, and determine the sex according to your wishes.
The Risks of Human Embryo Cloning Activities
The activity of human cloning from the past until now still leaves room for debate. This happens not without reason because several reasons and risks underlie it. Here are some of them.
1. Related to Ethical Issues
If the cloning of animals is still often faced with ethical challenges, then cloning human embryos will undoubtedly have the same problem. Despite the advantages of the application of embryo cloning biotechnology that will be obtained, the ethical issues still have not found a bright spot.
2. There is No Guarantee of Same Results
The one purpose of cloning is to get the same quality as the original. As for human cloning, the procedure may produce the same physiology and anatomical aspects, but in character and nature, it will not be 100 per cent the same.
3. Incomplete Fertilization Process
Please note that cloning human embryos is carried out with the same procedure as a test-tube baby or in vitro fertilization. One of the main stages is to unite the egg using a particular mechanism, which is quite risky for the health of the uterus.
4. Impact on Quality of Life
In some cases, the cloning activity performed on animals creates anomalies. Thus affecting the quality of life and growth. For example, some animals are suffering from significant offspring syndrome. When in the womb, the embryo grows too large, causing congenital disabilities.
As human beings who have feelings and conscience, these conditions certainly do not want to be experienced by those who later live around us.
That’s the discussion regarding embryo cloning. For now, embryo cloning still leaves room for debate in terms of ethics and religion. However, it is not impossible that this procedure can be applied in the future.