Therapeutic cloning is a great advancement in medical science that could save thousands of lives in the future. By being able to replicate a patient’s cells and tissues, there would no longer be an issue of rejection. This will not only prolong lives and ensure treatment success but also help patients and states save millions of dollars every year for treatments that would no longer be needed.
As promising as it sounds, however, therapeutic cloning is not without its issues. Few concerns related to genetic research have raised controversial debate (on both religious and ethical grounds) on the use of cloning in medicine. Some experts expressed that its therapeutic advantages may not be enough to outweigh its disadvantages. Let us take a look at this subject in depth by examining its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Therapeutic Cloning
1. Eliminate the need for a medical donor.
Because the cells or tissues will be developed based on a patient’s own DNA, there will be no longer a need for a donor. The success of the treatment is also guaranteed since the risk of rejection is eliminated.
2. Potentially provide effective and lasting treatment to a number or diseases.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), once perfected, has the potential to provide cure for diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s. Scientists from the New York Stem Cell Foundation have successfully replaced the damaged DNA of a patient with type 1 diabetes with the healthy genes of an infant donor. Research leader Dr. Dieter Egli said that they are closed to treating diabetic patients with their own insulin-producing cells. Studies on the use of therapeutic cloning to treat brain disease, heart disease, paralysis and many other diseases are also underway.
3. Open up new avenues for research.
Therapeutic cloning research, when supported and encouraged could open up a number of potentials for medical science. Imagine if cells could be directly implanted into a damaged organ and allow that organ to repair itself. The possibilities are endless.
List of Cons of Therapeutic Cloning
1. Human embryo is used.
SCNT often used embryos because the cells they contain are capable of growing and developing into any type of cell or organ. This is where the ethical debate starts, as many people believe that embryos are whole human beings endowed with human dignity and human rights.
2. Potential for abuse.
Even if therapeutic cloning does not strive to make whole humans, there is a great risk of misuse. Some scientists feared that the process of creating cells or organs from a destroyed embryo could eventually lead into human cloning. There are those though who support the use of therapeutic cloning as long as its use is strictly limited to treating diseases.
3. Low success rate.
So far, medical research conducted on therapeutic cloning showed low success rate. Many of the cells cloned ended up developing serious defects that could harm human health if used. More research has to be done to perfect the process.
Therapeutic cloning offers a lot of life-saving potentials; however, the issues pointed above must first be resolved before further studies on the subject matter are conducted and before the technology will be widely used for the treatment of diseases.