Biotechnology Mikayla Cluxton


CLONING is the process of producing a genetically identical twin or genetic copy, called a clone. Natural clones, or identical twins, occur at times in many species, but cloning is done in the hope of producing one at will instead of at chance. There are two common processes that scientists try, although both have their flaws and take many tires to produce a living clone that survives past the laboratory and birth. It has been tried and done on many animals and many have claimed to clone a human, but no proof has been brought forward.

Artificial embryo twinning

The first way is Artificial Embryo Twinning. This is when very early on the embryo is separated into individual cells and then they are divided and developed for a time in a Petri dish. The grown cells are then placed in a surrogate mother who carries the cells to term. Hopefully the cells should turn into an embryo and then be born as a genetic copy.


The second process of cloning is the way the first clone, Dolly the sheep, was produced. Scientists locate a somatic cell and take its nucleus as well as its DNA. They then take an egg cell and remove its own nucleus and DNA and replace it with that of the somatic cell's. It is then grown in the lab for a bit and then transferred to the surrogate mother who carries it to term. This way has worked a couple of times, but like the first process, it still takes quite a few tries to produce a living clone.

Benefits vs. problems

There are many benefits and problems for cloning. A few problems are that at the moment it is not the most reliable process. It often take serval tries to produce a living clone, which costs much time, effort, and money. A few benefits are its other uses. Scientists ca hopefully clone stem cells and use it in many different medical situations to help save people's lives.


There are definitely many ethical issues with doing this, especially with human cloning. First off, it is costing scientists a lot of resources to do this and it is failing most of the time with simpler animals, let alone complex humans. There are more pressing matters like cancer and other genetic diseases that deserve more time and money. We do not have to have clones to survive, but millions of people need a cure to survive cancer or a cure to have an easier life. Human cloning could also cause damage to the embryos used as well as the surrogate mothers or even the clone! We have no idea what could have happen and it is not fair or ethical to subject an embryo to that without it having taken its first breath of life.


Different genes are turned on and off at different times in the human genome. This is the study of when those turn off and on and how it affects human life, from pest control to cancer. Scientists can tell when different genes are off or on by taking a microarray analysis. That is when they break into a cell and make a list of each of the genes that are turned off or on by looking at that particular sample. The array is a list of many different samples they have taken from different cells.


Microarrays can be used for gene discovery, disease diagnosis, drug discovery, and other research. It is easier to understand more health issues when you can see what is going on in the small cellular level. Once you can recognize a problem, it becomes easier to fix.


GMO'S or genetically modified organisms, are organisms that have one or more genes that were given to it artificially. They are usually modified to try to help mankind or make it better. Scientists often take a take a desired trait from one plant or species and insert it into the new organism. One example is the goat. Scientist took a trait from a silk producing spider and out it into goats, so now that goat will produce silk in its milk. The silk does not harm the milk, so it is still safe to consume, but now manufacturers and businessmen have the added bonus of harvesting silk. It has also been used for medical purposes. One scientist was able to develop "golden rice" with more vitamins and minerals to help the poor malnourished people who could only afford to eat rice. Before the golden rice, they didn't have enough nourishment to stay healthy and many died or had other health issues. Researchers are also trying to develop plants that can make human proteins to cure other diseases like cystic fibrosis or hepatitis.
There are quite a few concerns with the rise of GMO'S. Many people believe that everyone has a right to know if their food has been genetically altered. One big concern is allergies. If you take a gene from one plant and combine it with another, there is potential risk of a person unknowingly eating it and having an allergic reaction because they were unaware of the crossing. There are also more allergies that could happen because of the mixing of the genes. New combinations lead to more possibilities of allergies. There are also other problems that could happen. For example, what if we take it too far and the plant mutates and causes other problems.


Adult or somatic stem cells are the stem cells that occur naturally in the human body. They keep the body in order through it loosing cells naturally. Stem cells from the blood and bone marrow can be used to treat blood related diseases. They can be transferred between people, but without special medicine the immune system will attack it. The stems cells are also limited in what you can turn them into, and the die easily so they are not always the best to use. There are not really any ethical issues with using them though.
Embryonic stem cells come from early embryos and the cells have the potential to be turned into any kind of cell that can be used to treat many different diseases. Again like the other stem cells, without medication the immune system will attack the new cells. There are also many ethical issues involved with this. When stem cells are taken from the embryo, it is destroying it, and thereby killing the unborn child. It is not fair to take away the baby's chance at life before it has even done anything. They are not choosing this. Many are arguing over whether an embryo is still a child and if they have rights. Life is life and each life is precious. Who knows what that embryo may accomplish one day.


GENE THERAPY is manipulating specific genes to try to cure a disease or disorder in the hopes of curing it or at least making it easier to live with. It is not a common thing and is currently on clinical trial because it has not worked 100% of the time. There have been many cases were people got Leukemia as a side effect or they even died. The most common procedure at the moment is placing the "therapeutic" gene into the person's genome to replace the gene that is causing the disease. One way they insert the gene is through a virus. When the virus is put into the cell, it raises the gene which soon becomes a part of the cells DNA and that cell is replicated. Hopefully it will keep replicating and replace all the "bad" cells with new new good ones to cure the disease. This, like everything good, has the capability of being abused. For example, those with Alzheimer's could get a better memory gene. People with normal memory could also try to use that memory gene to get an even better memory. Gene therapy could be used as steroids in enhancing people past normal. It can help people, but it could also hurt if the wrong gene is used or if people abuse it beyond its intended use.

Genomic medicine is catering medicine to the individual's DNA, in the hopes of it working better than the average medicine. Each person is different and the respond to different medications in unique ways. Genomic Medicine is also doing health screenings sooner to try to eliminate any concern, like screening for breast cancer. Women who carry a certain mutation are more likely to have it. It can also help with the prognosis. Again with the beast cancer example, scientists have seen that people with certain mutations present, or missing, may have a higher survival rate, or a lower one. There is some problems with this too though. Some see it as pointless to test for these things when there is no know cure and the person shows no symptoms yet. Other may see that as necessary because it can help you prepare mentally and physically.


Designer babies are exactly what they sound like, a baby where the parents pick the genes in order to create their "ideal" baby. They can pick anything from the appearance, gender, and health through the genetics. It is not that commo today and is rarely used, but it is slowly developing. One ethical issue with this is that if it become more common, it would probably be more expensive, meaning only upperclass citizens could afford it. It would then create a divide. There could even more easily be a division between the children. Imagine how you would feel to be a normal child versus a perfect "designer" baby. There are also still the chance that making these changes could lead to mutations or that it would be a long process to learn how to do it and then loose lives and resources. When again, this could be spent on more valiant causes.


EPIGENETICS is the study of the chemical reactions that activate and deactivate parts of the genome as the organism grows and develops. It is also the study of the factors that influence those changes. There are many different outside signals that affect it, but one thing that has really been studied is diet. The diet of the mother while she is carrying her baby can have an even bigger impact. There are many different things that affect it and knowing those changes can help us begin to find a cure to diseases one day. We all have basic DNA that makes us up, but it is the things that happen to us and how we live our life that really make us different and unique. This can be both good and bad. Having a good diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals can help you be healthier and live longer, while smoking and eating unhealthy could lead to mutations and cancer. Understanding exactly how this works can help us save lives.


DNA fingerprinting is used to help police solve a crime. They compare the DNA of the suspect to DNA found at the site and if they match, it had to be that person no one shares the same DNA, unless you have a twin! It is used when the only evidence they have is genetic, like blood or a body fluids. It is the only thing they have to go one, so that is what they use. Any evidence helps and espeacially this.

There are many different processes used to compare the DNA. One is gel electrophoresis. Everyone has their own fingerprint and everyone has their own DNA. This has been used in many cases to identify the criminal when nothing else could.


A paternity test is used to tell is a man has fathered a child. They can tell by taking DNA samples from the suspected father and he child and seeing if anything matches up. The child should share half the the father's and mothers DNA. Ancestry testing is used to tell what ethnicity/race a person is as well as some diseases they may get later in life. It looks at patterns seen in different groups to tell a person where they come from. There are many different companies that do it and all results may not be the same or 100% accurate.


PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a technique that is used to make copies of a section of DNA. It can be used for many different situations when more DNA is needed than they have. It only takes a little bit of the DNA to make many copies. The portion of DNA is denatured, annealed, and extended many times over which doubles the amount of DNA each time.
Electrophoresis is a technique used in labs to separate molecules based on size. The charged Molecules move through a gel as an electric current is passing though it. The different sized molecules move at different speeds and different charged molecules go to different ends. It allows you to tell the difference between different DNA fragments of different lengths. By the end of the process, you can see the size of the DNA. You can actually see it because the the lights and dye used.


PLASMIDS are round double stranded DNA molecules that are different from chromosomal DNA. Recombinant DNA is joining two molecules from different species which are then put into a new host organism. This produces new products that are helpful to many different people and different fields like medicine and agriculture. A transgenic organism is an organism that has been changed to have modified genes or genes from another animal. Both recombinant DNA and transgenic organisms are used to produce a better product, whether plant or animal. Some examples are the silk goats and golden rice, like mentioned earlier.


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