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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Has a human been cloned yet?

It is something of a surprise to me that in this age of supercommunication it is not clear as to whether a human being has been cloned! A clone is defined in the authoritative Oxford dictionary as,
An organism or cell, or group of organisms or cells, produced asexually from one ancestor or stock, to which they are genetically identical.
The problem with this definition is the use of the phrase, 'from one ancestor or stock'. This implies to me that the only true clones are females that are produced by implanting somatic material from the mother into the mother's own egg cell, thus producing an organism from only one stock, i.e. the mother supplies the somatic material and the egg cell.
Consequently, the Oxford definition, although suitable for English students, appears somewhat lacking in terms of usefulness in the scientific world. It is for this reason that I think I should adopt the definition in the American Heritage dictionary as the working definition of clone used on this blog,
An organism developed asexually from another and genetically identical to it, such as an animal produced from an egg cell into which the nucleus of an adult individual has been transferred.
It would appear that the the first clone of a human being was produced before Dolly the sheep in 1995, but not reported formally until 1998 (Saltus, Richard 1998 "News of human-cow cell raises ruckus." Boston Globe; and McFarling, Usha Lee 1998 "Bioethicists warn that human cloning will be difficult to stop," Knight Ridder) The clone was a copy of a scientist named Dr Jose Cibelli. However, the clone was stopped from developing into a human after just 5 cell divisions at the 32 cell stage. Therefore some controversy will always exist about whether this was the first clone because we don't know if it/he was 'genetically identical' to Dr Jose Cibelli. Interestingly, this would not have been a clone using the Oxford definition, because it was a man.
Please let me know your thoughts on this and maybe the truth will out as they say! There is a poll on the top right side of this blog for you to record your opinion.

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