Cloning, reactions, reflections and criticisms

Cloning, reactions, reflections and criticisms


The scientific world in the face of cloning: why not leave nature to its courses?


The news of the birth of the first cloned girl has caused a sensation in society, confusion and, as has happened on other occasions, a refusal to accept such a striking event.

Public opinion has never been so unanimous in condemning the fact, so much so that numerous authorities around the world have felt the need to urgently request the enactment, by all legal systems, of laws that absolutely prohibit cloning. with the aim of reproducing complete organisms.

Before examining the reactions from the world institutions, it will be better to analyze what were the events that triggered so much adverse reaction.

The problem is far-reaching: it is enough to analyze the data reported in the press, such as those of the "Messaggero", about a survey carried out among Italians on the topic of cloning, from which it emerges that 58% feel little or not at all informed about argument, but in any case 70% consider cloning for reproductive purposes unacceptable. If in interviewing people one comes down to particular cases, such as the absolute infertility of a couple, or the hope of recreating a loved one, a genius or an individual deserving towards humanity, then people immediately show themselves to favorable opinion, forgetting all the uncertainties previously highlighted and coming to judge the experiment in such cases useful and right for man.

The term cloning derives from the Greek Klonos whose meaning is sprout, a concept that can be maintained in the animal world, so much so that it is possible, by means of certain biological techniques, to obtain the cloning of cells up to the point of reproducing a superior animal.



Representations of the structures of a cell and DNA derived from IMAGES OF BIOLOGY A + B, Campebell - Mitcheòò - Reece, ed. Zanichelli

Thanks to the studies of the Bohemian monk Gregor Mendel, there was the discovery of genes and their functioning in 1866 with which the inheritance of the characters was demonstrated, however only after a century did we arrive at a practical application of the discovery, when we genetic engineering developed.

In fact, cloning consists in the transfer of one or more DNA fragments into a cell from which the nucleus has been removed to arrive, always in a test tube, at the creation of an embryo. Only at this point is the embryo transferred to another organism.

This technique makes it possible for living cells to develop glandular tissues that can secrete animal hormones, growth factors, enzymes and specific proteins not only, but with the same method we are trying to produce practically any type of homologous tissue, which would not have the disadvantage of rejection, once used for transplants. At the moment it is not possible to produce a specific tissue or organ to be used for a transplant, without being obliged to produce a complete organism from which to take the necessary tissues or organs, obviously obtained by suppressing the individual.

The first experiments were carried out at the end of the 19th century: the first to obtain a positive result was the German Hans Drieskh, who was able to transfer the nucleus of a muscle cell of a sea urchin inside a denucleated nerve cell of the same organism. , obtaining a natural embryo.

In 1938 another experiment was proposed: transferring the nucleus of an adult cell into the cytoplasm of an enucleated egg, in order to see if this was able to reproduce a cell exactly the same as the one from which the nucleus. The experiment was successful

To obtain more striking results, the English biologist John B. Gurden must have obtained positive results by transferring the nucleus of a cell from the intestine of a South African frog into a denucleated egg cell of an animal of the same species. The experiment was very important because it was the first clone of a vertebrate.

Another important step forward was made in 1981, when the first mice were obtained by inserting nuclei taken from embryonic cells into enucleated oocytes, thus reaching the possibility of cloning mammals too.

A further step was taken with the birth of the now famous sheep "Dolly" in the Roslyn Institute in Edinburgh. This sheep was obtained by taking cells from the mammary gland of an adult sheep, and inserting them into an egg deprived of its nucleus from another sheep. This egg then, once it reached the structure of an embryo, was inserted into a third sheep that gave birth to the animal in question.

Success was achieved after numerous attempts with disastrous results. However, there is still a doubt whether it was epithelial cells, fibroblasts, lymphocytes, all coming from the mammary gland, that made the experiment possible. Dolly the sheep died after a few years, as from the early years it showed typical characteristics of an elderly individual, which was to be expected given the age of the sheep from which the cells were taken.

Among the various researches we should also mention the Galileo bull which was obtained by cloning by the veterinarian Dr. Galli, and that the Minister Bindi had seized, while the Minister Sirchia in recent times had the provision revoked. There is no news about the animal's fate.

Many scientists have continued to carry out these experiments hoping to arrive at solutions for therapeutic purposes and not for reproductive purposes, that is to arrive at the production of tissues for transplants in order to overcome the problem of rejections, as tissues obtained by cloning cells of the same patient to be treated.

These were the main steps that science, despite the fundamental protests from the various institutions among which they have particularly distinguished themselves:

The Secretary of the Council of Europe, Walter Swimmer, who launched an appeal for nations to ban such experiments, while the Social Democratic Minister Edelgard Bulmahn echoed him, noting that this was the first necessary step for a worldwide ban;

UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura reiterated that the trials carried out by Clonaid are criminal acts;

In Italy, the President of the Italian Catholic Doctors, Domenico di Virgilio, affirms that cloning is an unacceptable and reprehensible technique, while Minister Sirchia, while taking sides against reproductive cloning, has given way to ministerial funding for research on adult stem cells and animals;

The UN, already in 2001 had proposed to ban cloning and the Vatican and the United States of the same opinion, so much so that President Bush has cut funds for research in this field;

Great Britain has also continued studies on stem cells for therapeutic purposes, while banning research for the purpose of reproduction;

The Florida State Judiciary has ordered the Raelians to show the cloned child and to allow clinical investigations, to prove the actual cloning origin, as there are doubts about the method they declared, so the results of the investigation could expose that association with the indictment of aggravated fraud. The fact that the perpetrators opposed what was ordered to them and that for some time no more talks about it, suggests that it was not true cloning ..

Since the eighties, the social sciences have also begun to take an interest in the subject to develop a new concept that would fight the anxiety deriving from ignorance or fear that regularly manifests itself every time in the face of the great challenges of science, therefore dangers that scientific progress brings with it.

Scientists, in fact, taken by the novelty of the event and by a certain ethical restlessness, stopped and, while continuing the experiments, they returned to the opinion of politicians, philosophers, sociologists and religious.

All this has triggered diatribes on the printed paper, diatribes that have given rise to a widespread social alarm, with the result of trying to clarify in order to arrive at a correct vision of the problem.

An article that examines the various philosophical positions on cloning, in particular the thought of philosopher Robert Spaemann on cloning for which "The ethical contrast is clear, it is an offense to human dignity that forbids men to subjugate other men for their own purposes".

According to Jongen, the ancient European man, who was formed with Christianity and Humanism, has always been against his conviction and worried about any technical intervention on man, but today, however, this attitude would no longer make sense as it goes the concept of humanism is dying out.

Thus, two camps have been created, that of the Christian and conservative man who basically does not conceive of the future and changes on the part of man; and the American one, which instead shows a momentum towards the outside and towards the future, leaving room for the possible changes of humanity due to technology.

The disappearance of the Pietas in American man on the one hand determines the incompleteness of creation and on the other pushes man to complete it. So it would not be a mistake, according to Jongen, to manufacture a human being.

The Raelians, who support cloning even affirm that life on earth is not the result of a casual evolution and not even the work of a god, but a creation wanted by a scientifically more advanced people, coming from another planet and that through DNA he created human beings in his own image.

What nature has begun, man must perfect and therefore by acting on the creative intelligence he must operate at best in genetic technology.

Given the scope of their statements and the vastness of the projects to be carried out, we can infer that the Raelians, claiming to have been guided in their actions by UFOs, give strength to their thesis of carrying out a mission on earth.

This should not surprise us as in the past, in order to make people accept innovations and changes, supernatural interventions were used, which no one would have dared to oppose. So it happened with the code of Hammurabi, dictated to the king by the god-Sun, with the delivery of the plates to Moses by God and many others.

It should not be forgotten that generally historical accidents are not determined by random events, but are the consequence of changes in thought, as in every human manifestation thought precedes action.

When Marcus Aurelius ascended the throne, no bell rang to warn the world that the pax romana was about to end and that a phase of barbarian invasions, of uncivilized bloody wars would follow, even if for a long time most of the Romans continued to think and to hear how he had always thought and felt: the adaptation to the new situation was slow and gradual.

Thus, at this moment, even without believing in UFOs, Raelians and their revolutionary doctrine, man may unconsciously find himself invested with the new mission of completing the work begun by nature, in order to arrive at a more complete knowledge by science. and compression of nature itself.

So what to answer the question "Why not leave nature to its courses?" Given the scarce knowledge on the processes connected to cloning, it seems obvious to us to answer with a clear "NO" to those experiments aimed at the formation of human embryos to generate complete organisms, with the risk of creating individuals with malformations and defects as happened in animals. Conversely, a "YES" for those experiments that use cells for the creation of tissues intended for transplants.

We must therefore be very careful not to raise barricades in the face of the new, since as has happened in the past in all fields from Science to Philosophy, novelty has often prevented us from seeing the ultimate goal of an event, especially when it is research. science to impose it on us.

Mario Petrocchi

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