OCR A Level Biology

Revision Notes

6.4.7 Uses of Animal Cloning

Uses of Animal Cloning

Arguments for animal cloning

  • Embryo cloning is well accepted and noncontroversial in the field of livestock farming
  • Many animals with desirable characteristics can be cloned, ideal for maximising agricultural output eg. milk yield in cattle
  • Cloning can also:
    • Remove less desirable characteristics from the gene pool over time, much in the way that selective breeding has done
    • Help preserve endangered species, ahead of possible reintroduction of those species to the wild
    • Provide regenerated organs for patients suffering from degenerative disease. Such organs will be a direct genome match to the patient so would have no risk of rejection by the immune system

Arguments against animal cloning

  • The process of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is very hit-and-miss
    • It took hundreds of unsuccessful attempts to clone Dolly the sheep
  • There are also unknown long-term effects of the cloning process
    • Subsequent cloning attempts have led to a high number of early deaths and genetic abnormalities in the clones
  • Some cloned animals that survive birth and infancy tend to grow abnormally large (Large Organ Syndrone – LOS)
    • LOS can cause breathing and circulatory problems in adult animals
    • Other clones have developed abnormalities in other large organs eg. kidneys, or in their immune systems
  • No precise ’cause and effect’ has been ascribed to the cloning process, but research has indicated that cloning disrupts the normal mechanisms or regulation of gene expression
  • Cloning destroys embryos which could in theory develop into a healthy adult animal – the argument put forward by groups such as Pro-Life
  • For these reasons, animal cloning has not gathered as much pace as many scientists thought it would
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