Cloning

Cloning: A Biologist Reports

Robert Gilmore McKinnell
Copyright Date: 1979
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 140
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttts9fg
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  • Book Info
    Cloning
    Book Description:

    Cloning has become in recent years a subject of widespread speculation: the word is a source of fear and wonder, the concept a jumping-off point for the fantasies of cartoonists, film producers, and novelists. With this book, cell biologist Robert Gilmore McKinnell provides the first clear scientific explanation of the procedure for general readers. Cloning is best defined as the asexual reproduction of genetic duplicates. The word clone derives from the Greek word for a twig or a slip, and the first “cloners” were in fact horticulturalists. Early attempts to clone animals culminated in 1952 when biologists reported that they had produced frogs by transplanting genetic material from an embryonic body cell into an egg from which the nucleus had been removed. In this account, McKinnell traces the historical background of cloning and describes in detail the modern procedure used in the cloning of frogs -- the highest animal thus far cloned. He emphasizes that the purpose of cloning is not to produce numerous frogs -- or people -- but rather to serve as a tool in biological research -- to achieve greater understanding of cancer and aging, immunobiology and the differentiation of cells. McKinnell also deals with questions about potential mammalian clones and examines the social, ethical, and biological problems we face in our considerations about human cloning. He concludes that human clones are not necessary for research purposes and that the diversity achieved with sexual reproduction is far more desirable than the sameness of cloned creatures. Robert Gilmore McKinnell writes in this book:_x000B_“Cloning is much in the news. The public has been bombarded with newspaper articles, magazine stories, books, television shows, and movies -- as well as cartoons. Unfortunately, much of this information is incorrect. Inaccurate information plus an understandable public concern about whether a human has been or will be cloned, with all the ethical and moral questions that raises, have resulted in a very distorted view of what cloning is and why biologists choose to clone. The real story may seem less dramatic, but in a way it is more heartening. It is an account not of the production of carbon-copy dictators, millionaires, and Einsteins but of research that may provide answers to the very human problems of cancer and aging.”

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6366-8
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vii)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-viii)
    R. G. M.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Why a Discourse on Cloning? Of Apples, Frogs, and Humans
    (pp. 3-13)

    Cloning is much in the news. The public has been bombarded with newspaper articles, magazine stories, books, television shows, and movies—as well as cartoons. Unfortunately, much of this information is incorrect. Inaccurate information plus an understandable public concern about whether a human has been or will be cloned, with all the ethical and moral questions that raises, have resulted in a very distorted view of what cloning is and why biologists choose to clone. The real story may seem less dramatic, but in a way it is more heartening. It is an account not of the production of carbon-copy...

  5. 2 “A Fantastical Experiment”
    (pp. 14-27)

    We may be on the threshold of mammalian cloning. And it seems that the successful cloning of mammals would mean that there is at least the technical possibility that humans may some day be cloned. Since the cloning of humans raises enormous ethical and moral issues, and since it fails to heal any known disease, then it seems appropriate to ask the question that was asked in a medical journal: “Should we have taken the first step?” (Genetic Engineering: Reprise. Editorial,The Journal of the American Medical Association,220: 1356-57, 1972). The first step in the present situation probably refers to...

  6. 3 To Clone a Frog
    (pp. 28-49)

    The historical acconut of the experiments that led to nuclear transplantation explains why cloning was attempted. It does not revealhowcloning was accomplished. An account of the nuclear-transplantation procedure, “the how of cloning,” provides insight into the purposes, opportunities, and limitations of the cloning technique.

    Nuclear transplantation refers to the process of moving a nucleus from one cell to another. The transfer of a nucleus would have little biological meaning if it were not from onekindof cytoplasm to anotherkindof cytoplasm. Why waseggcytoplasm chosen as the recipient cytoplasm for inserted nuclei? Why wereblastula...

  7. 4 Cancer, Aging, and Other Challenges
    (pp. 50-77)

    The success of nuclear transplantation with blastula cells has encouraged researchers to do similar experiments with older, more specialized nuclei. Adults are composed of many kinds of specialized (differentiated) cells. If, as some believe, certain kinds of cancer result from the improper functioning of the differentiation process, then perhaps some cancer can be viewed as specialized cells that are harmful to humans. Humans age and the changes that occur in the cells of older people may be viewed as another kind of non-beneficial specialization. It is believed that the cloning procedure has the potential of revealing to what extent cell...

  8. 5 On Cloning Mice and Men
    (pp. 78-94)

    Although I am delighted to write about nuclear transplantaion in frogs and other amphibia, I recognize that much of the general reader’s interest is in the cloning of humans. I also perceive that most readers at the time of this writing understand that successful cloning of a human hasnotbeen accomplished. Frog clones are faits accompli, but thus far there is not even a cloned white mouse in existence, much less a human. Why? Is the mammalian egg too small for micromanipulation, as one Nobel laureate recently stated on nationwide television in the United States? Is the egg of...

  9. 6 A Hundred Einsteins?
    (pp. 95-114)

    An elephant has not yet been cloned. Neither has a shrew, a mouse, a rabbit, or a human (successfully). Although little has been inscribed about cloned shrews and other small mammals, much has been written about clonal humans. Most is the work of science-fiction writers, philosophers, theologians, and lawyers. As far as I know, biologists experienced in cloning technology havenotwritten about any aspect of cloning other than their own experiments. Perhaps I am an exception because I, as a teacher in a university classroom, respond to frequent questions about the implications of cloning humans. It seems appropriate that...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 115-116)

    Thomas Robert Malthus wrote in the early nineteenth century that the population of humans tends to exceed available resources. Charles Robert Darwin suggested just after the middle of the nineteenth century that the reproductive potential of a species is great, and he believed that the generation of enormous numbers of individuals played a role in evolution. Perhaps as Malthus and Darwin would have predicted, the population of the world in the late twentieth century is enormous. Crowding, pollution, and shortage of adequate food are serious problems. How, then, would it benefit mankind were humans to be cloned at the workbench...

  11. Suggested Reading
    (pp. 119-122)
  12. Index
    (pp. 125-130)