Animal cloning is the process in which a single cell is taken from the parent organism, i.e. an animal in this case, and is used to reproduce a genetically identical organism. The cloned animal represents an exact duplicate of its parent in every way, besides having the same DNA. The first cloned animal was a sheep named “Dolly”. Development of twins from a single fertilized egg and asexual reproduction in certain animals are instances of animal cloning. Now, it is even possible to artificially recreate the process of animal cloning due to the advancement and significant progress made by biological technology over the years.
Background Of Animal Cloning
Attempts to clone animals were on since a fairly long time. However, many of the initial attempts were unsuccessful and resulted in nothing. Partial success in animal cloning was achieved when frog embryonic cells were used to clone tadpoles, by the process of nuclear transfer. However, the tadpoles could not survive for long and died before growing into mature frogs. Nevertheless, the creation of cloned tadpoles was a breakthrough step for cloning scientists. Further, clones of mammals were also created through the same process of nuclear transfer of embryonic cells. Even this time, the cloned mammals could not survive for long.
The first actual success in the field of animal cloning was seen when the cloned sheep, Dolly, was created in 1997 in Scotland, which could survive and also naturally reproduced itself. Ian Wilmut, and his team at the Roslyn Institute in Edinburgh, is credited with the creation of Dolly. Unlike the previous animal cloning attempts, Dolly, was not created through a developing embryonic cell. Rather, a developed mammary gland cell taken from a full grown sheep was used to produce the cloned Dolly. Since the successful creation of Dolly, scientists have also succeeded in cloning many other animals, such as rats, cats, horses, bullocks, pigs, deer, etc.
Animal cloning process
As mentioned above, the initial attempts to clone animals made use of developing embryonic cells from which the DNA nucleus was extracted. The DNA nucleus was then implanted into an unfertilized egg, from which the existing nucleus had already been removed. An electric shock or chemical shock treatment was given to the egg, in order to simulate the process of fertilization. This artificially induced union led to the development of cells, which were then implanted into host mothers. The resultant cloned animal came out to be genetically identical to the original cell. After the creation of Dolly, clones are now possible to be created by non-embryonic cells.
The technique of animal cloning can be used both for reproductive and non-reproductive or therapeutic purposes. Cloning for therapeutic purposes is done for producing cells or other such cells. Without duplicating the whole organism, these cells can be used for therapeutic purposes, such as healing or recreating damaged organs. However, even as animal cloning opens the way for a lot of beneficial possibilities, there are some who see cloning as unethical and an outrageous attempt to go against nature. Some countries also allow for animal cloning, though cloning humans is not allowed anywhere.