21 November 2015

De-extinction: the new trend!

Is that your twin? How can you possibly be in two places at the same time? AAAAAAAAAAA run.. ghost!! I just saw you walk through that door and now you’re there again, or are you just spamming the doorway again and again?! 

Yeah well this is the expected reactions at present of all earthlings, to what might possibly be the future. Well what I’m talking about here is cloning. Something of the sort that happens in the movie, Island featuring Scarlett Johansson. Remind you of anything? Well it doesn’t happen exactly the way portrayed in the movies; A clone develops exactly the way a normal human does, needs a surrogate mother and ample time to grow into a fully developed individual.

Cloning is just so unnatural!

For all those who think cloning is unnatural, think again! It was pretty basic high school biology that everyone studied about Asexual reproduction, well recall those processes.
  • ·        Bacteria, yeast, and single-celled protozoa multiply by making copies of their DNA and dividing in two. Like the ditto from Pok√©mon.

  • ·         Redwood and aspen trees send up shoots from their roots, which grow into trees that are genetically identical to the parent- like roots dividing into more roots and forming more trees

  • ·         In the animal world, the eggs of female aphids grow into identical genetic copies of their mother—without being fertilized by a male.

  • ·        If a starfish is chopped in half, both pieces can regenerate, forming two complete, genetically identical individuals. Like chop up Patrick form ‘SpongeBob square pants’ and you’ll get two separate Patricks growing from those two pieces, imagine the horror!
  • ·         Even mammals form natural clones: identical twins are a common example in many species.

De- extinction be the new shiz!

Suddenly why do I bring this topic up when we’ve practically been watching movies, documentaries etc. based on this for over a decade now. I know it isn’t a new concept but well some new discoveries caught my interest.
The passenger pigeon was hunted to extinction 99 years ago, but researchers are planning to use DNA from museum specimens to bring the bird back to life.

How will this happen?

Step 1: sequence the genome of the passenger pigeon and compare it to that of the bird’s closest living relative, the band-tailed pigeon, to pick out the most important variations.
Step 2: Edit the genome from the germ cell of a band-tailed pigeon to transform it into that of a passenger pigeon.
Step 3:  Implant this germ cell into another pigeon, likely a rock pigeon, where the researchers hope it will migrate to the gonads to produce sperm or eggs. Two of these birds will be mated to create a passenger pigeon chick. At least that’s the plan.

Dolly the cloned sheep.

Where’s the problem?

·        The nucleus of an egg cell needs to be removed for cloning; this means removing the proteins essential to help cells divide, is removed. Cloning mice is not a problem because they are able to make these proteins again, but this doesn’t happen in primates- so monkey cloning failed.
  • ·        Cloned animals often have different kinds of genetic abnormalities that can prevent embryo implantation in a uterus, or cause the fetus to spontaneously abort, or the animal to die shortly after birth.
  • ·        The extremely high rate of death, and the risk of developmental abnormities from cloning makes cloning people unethical.

 Let’s just hope that this technological development overcomes obstacles only for the better, and not lead to Human extinction!