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.”
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