Cloning is here

John K Clark (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 12:44:03 -0800 (PST)


I think it would be hard to over emphasize the importance of this new cloning
development. The New York Times, not noted for their sensationalism, talked
about cloning the dead. It would be interesting to talk to a clone of
Einstein or Darwin or Newton or Shakespeare, they even mentioned a clone of
Jesus, or at least, a clone of the person who's blood is in relics and
claimed to be from Jesus.

There is also the question of somebody making a clone of you without your
permission or even your knowledge. The Pope may thunder against the evils of
it, but it would only take one fleck of papal dandruff to make a clone of the
Pope. There are more down to earth medical applications too.

In the last few years Genetic Engineers have done some pretty impressive work,
but almost entirely with single cell life, and the reason is that we could
clone them, in fact that's the natural way this form of life reproduces.
When you insert a gene into a cell it almost never finds its way to the
correct place on the chromosome and gets expressed properly. It may take
millions or billions of attempts before everything works, but if you also
include a signaling gene for antibiotic resistance or for the production of
a small amount of florescent dye, you can find the one successful cell out of
billions and then clone it and make as many as you want.

This didn't work for mammals because nobody had billions of fertilized egg
cells to work with, so little Genetic Engineering was done on mammals.
Now we can use any mammal cell, they're very easy to obtain and you can put
millions of them in one small test tube. Find the one cell that expresses
the new gene correctly and then use it to clone an animal.

I predict that very soon somebody will insert human genes for the surface
proteins of cells that the immune system uses for recognition into pig cells.
They will find the one cell out of billions that correctly expresses these
genes and then they will clone an animal. The result will be an animal who's
organs work as well for transplantation into people as human organs do.
The next step would be to engineer an animal for use by one specific
individual, then a pig heart would work as well in you as one from your
identical twin brother, if you had one.

It's a little more speculative but the womb such a pig that recognized human
tissue as its own might be a good home for a human embryo for 9 months

John K Clark

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