Human cloning is a form of cloning that is designed to result in a reproduction of a human being or a human body part. There are a number of proper and spiritual issues surrounding human cloning, and many countries have banned human cloning, research into procedures which are designed to result in cloned humans. The same values which have been positively used to clone animals could also be utilized to make human clones, even though as of 2008, no researchers had claimed to produce a human clone.
Cloning is a term used both in traditional biology and in biotechnology. In traditional biology, cloning happens naturally in nature among many asexual species of plants, bacteria, and insects, where identical genetic copies of an organism are created as a form of procreation. In asexual cloning, the only differentiation that occurs happens as a result of random mutation, as opposed to the mingling of different DNA. In biotechnology the term is used to refer to the intentional cloning of entire organisms, or part of the DNA or organism. It is this latter definition that most people mean when they talk about different types of cloning.
There are three main types of cloning within biotechnology: reproductive cloning, therapeutic cloning, and DNA cloning. Although it is reproductive cloning that has caught the imaginations of most people and media outlets, because of the size of the organisms involved, and the vocal opposition to it, in fact there are additional types of cloning that are much more common in the world today.
In therapeutic cloning, the objective is to clone a part of the human body for use in research. Therapeutic cloning could also be theoretically used to make clones of organs, skin, and tissue for the purpose of a transplant. With reproductive human cloning, a copy of a human being would be produced. This practice has been thought to be controversial in many parts of the world, as there is a great deal of ethical tension about producing cloned humans. Numerous major religions have spoken out confidently against human cloning, arguing that it affects the natural processes of nature, and could be interpreted as a form of playing God. In addition, fascinating ethical questions have been raised about acceptance of clones and other logical issues related to reproductive cloning.
Whether therapeutic or reproductive, human cloning would theoretically start with somatic cell nuclear transfer, in which the nucleus of a cell from the body of the human to be cloned would then be moved into a human egg which had been relieved of its nucleus. The egg would be moved so that it begins to split and grow, producing stem cells which would sooner or later develop into another human being.
Recombinant DNA technology could also play a role in human cloning. Using this technology, a scientist could substitute designated parts of the genome to produce a specifically desired outcome. This is one of the reasons why human cloning has attracted so much controversy, due to worries that genetic procedures could be used to produce better-quality clones of current individuals, possibly reducing genetic diversity in the human race over the course of repeated manipulations for desired traits.
The ethical issues over human cloning have created some legal twists. For example, scientists in some nations are not allowed to use cloning to produce a new stem cell line for research under laws which ban human cloning. For researchers who want to work with stem cells, this can be extremely frustrating. “It was the successful cloning of numerous animal species, including the primates, which laid the foundation of various attempts to clone humans and therefore cannot be overlooked after scientist tried to trace the history of human cloning research”. The practice of cloning can be drawn back to 1880s, when numerous scientists tried to prove how the genetic material inside the cells worked. Despite the fact that