• Question: is human cloning possible

    Asked by zacnanamus to Claire, Renata, Suzanne on 27 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Renata Medeiros

      Renata Medeiros answered on 27 Jun 2013:

      Human cloning is defined as the creation of two (or more) genetically identical human beings. One form of human cloning actually occurs naturally, because identical twins are genetically identical! However, artificial human cloning is also possible, through recent developments in biological technology. There are two major types of artificial human cloning…

      “Therapeutic cloning” is the creation of cloned cells or tissues for medical purposes, and this is already carried out using human tissues to aid in medical research and to treat some diseases. For example, cloned human stem cells are being used in highly experimental treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

      “Reproductive cloning” of a human would involve the creation of a whole cloned human being, and this has not yet been carried out, even though the technology to clone whole mammals already exists. The very first cloned mammal was a sheep called “Dolly”, who was cloned in 1996. The major reason that whole humans have not been cloned is because people are not sure whether this would be a good thing. It is a very interesting moral and philosophical question to think about -what would it be like if there was a genetically identical copy of you in the world? Would it make any difference to your life? Would it make a difference to the life of the cloned person? If you died, would you still live on in the body of the clone?

      Because of these moral uncertainties, human reproductive cloning is banned, and even therapeutic cloning is very strictly regulated.

    • Photo: Suzanne Harvey

      Suzanne Harvey answered on 28 Jun 2013:

      This is a really good question, and very topical! I just read that a mouse has been cloned this week from a single drop of blood. The technology is progressing very quickly. The zoology museum I work at has the first ever cloned cat, it’s a very old specimen and at that time the clone didn’t live very long, but now cloned mice can be completely normal.

      I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be possible to clone a human, except the ethical reasons – this technology scares people! If you could clone yourself, would you? I don’t think I would…