The practice of therapeutic cloning is the replication of tissues and cells that can be used for specific medical purposes. It’s a type of cloning that is incredibly controversial because the ethics involved in the process. It is literally a life and death issue that is being discussed. In order to form a viable opinion on the subject, it is necessary to learn more about the pros and cons of the research that is going on in this particular field of medicine.
Therapeutic cloning could become the future of medical science, but only if research is allowed to continue. Do the advantages of therapeutic cloning outweigh the disadvantages that may be potentially seen? Let’s take a look at this subject in a more in-depth way right now.
What Are the Pros of Therapeutic Cloning?
1. It would reduce the possibilities of an organ being rejected during transplantation. The ultimate goal of therapeutic cloning would be to create new organs from the existing cell tissues of a medical patient. Because the organs created would be of the person’s own cells, there would be a much reduced risk of organ rejection once a transplant procedure was successfully completed. As the technology in this field continues to proceed, it is expected that the risks of rejection will continue to decline.
2. There is an enormous research potential. Although the goal of therapeutic cloning would be to create viable medical treatments, the research that is done into this practice might actually be better than any of results that could be achieved. From a better understanding of birth defects to viable treatments for cancer, medical cloning offers researchers the chance to dig in at the genetic and cellular levels so that human health can be better understood.
3. The need for a second party surgery would be eliminated. Because the cells would be developed based on a person’s own unique genetics and DNA, there would no longer be a need for a second surgery of a donor in order for a transplant to be successful. Medical treatments would be individually based and this would ultimately protect the privacy of the person.
4. It could treat serious diseases. Imagine being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but then having your doctor give you an injection of therapeutically cloned cells that will fix the problem immediately. That’s the reality of this science. Instead of having a lifetime of suffering from chronic pain or other physical issues, therapeutic cloning provides the opportunity to find a potential cure in maybe just one office visit.
5. The process of organ regeneration can be studied. Imagine if cells could be directly implanted into an organ and that would allow a degenerating organ to fix itself? The process of therapeutic cloning allows scientists to evaluate how the body could potentially heal itself under the right set of conditions. This type of medical technology would even potentially reduce the need for organ transplants to occur in the first place.
6. It eliminates the need for medical fields like xenotransplantation. Some medical research is looking at the possibility of incorporating animal cells into the human body to help it to heal. Because these are human cells that have been created from therapeutic cloning, there is no need to assume the risk for animal-to-human disease transfers, rejection issues, or other common problems associated with this practice.
What Are the Cons of Therapeutic Cloning?
1. It requires the use of an embryo. The reason why embryos are used for therapeutic cloning is because the cells contained within them have the ability to grow into any type of cell or organ. This gives medical researchers the ability to create medical procedures that have an incredible amount of life-saving possibilities. It also means that a question of ethics must be answered. Is a human embryo a living creature from a morality standpoint?
2. It currently has a low success rate. Current medical research shows that the process of therapeutic cloning is not currently successful. The cells that have been cloned wind up developing some very serious defects that would ultimately harm human health if they were used. If cloned cells just become defective and then eventually die, then obtaining them from an embryo does not provide any real benefit.
3. The science creates the foundation of human cloning. Every subject has a “slippery slope” argument to it, but none may be as profound as that of therapeutic cloning. The process of creating cells from a destroyed embryo could eventually lead scientists to be able to directly clone a human being. Although most scientists are very opposed to reproductive cloning from this field of science, many do support the process of therapeutic cloning as long as it is used to treat disease.
4. Adult cells have limited potential. For those that don’t support the ethics of embryonic cells, adult cells seem to be a viable research alternative. The only problem is that the adult cells are limiting, so they are only of a certain value. Under current conditions, this would mean millions of eggs would need to be researched and studied and there just isn’t the supply available right now to create that many embryos.
Is Therapeutic Cloning Something to Pursue?
The potential of being able to cure a disease that is currently incurable should be enough to get the average person excited about the possibilities of therapeutic cloning. For those who view the destruction of an embryo as the destruction of human life, however, the thought of therapeutic cloning is gruesome and painful. Some even view research in this area as a form of murder or infanticide.
Here’s the stark reality: there are about 400,000 embryos that are frozen right now. That’s nowhere near the amount that is needed for continuing research and even the freezing procedure could ultimately be problematic from an ethical standpoint for some. By evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of therapeutic cloning in every detail, a better overall opinion of the practice can be achieved and that may just lead to a surprising decision.