Animal cloning is a very common form of reproductive cloning whereby the mature somatic cells are removed from that animal they wish to copy and then the DNA of the somatic cell is transferred into an egg whose DNA containing nucleus has been altered. They are different methods used by researchers to add the DNA to the egg. The first method is by removing the nucleuses contain DNA of the somatic cell by use of a needle and they inject the nucleus to the empty egg. The second method involves the use of electric current to electro-fuse the empty egg with the whole somatic cell. After the mentioned process, the egg is left inside a test tube to develop as an embryo before it is implanted into an adult female animal womb. Animal cloning needs the use of a surrogate mother that allows the cloned embryo to develop. The surrogate mother gives birth to young animals whose genes are identical to the somatic cell animal donor.
The potential application of cloned animals
Reproductive cloning may help the researchers in the future in the field of medicine and agriculture. An example to these is a sheep cloned by some Scottish researchers whose genes have been altered to produce milk containing human protein that helps in blood clotting. Cloned animals will be helpful in case of treatment and testing new drugs. Drug testing will be a great idea since clones have same genes which mean an identical response will be observed unlike in animals with varying genetic makeups. Another area that will be of use in cloning is building a population of animals that endangered or are about to extinct. Cloning pet animals to help the owner have the same experiences he had with her first pet.
Drawbacks in animal cloning
Animal cloning is still not a mature technique, and most of the embryos of the cloned animals have not been able to survive as healthy individuals. Of the cloned embryos, only a few of them makes it alive. The safety concerns and the low efficiency experienced in the field provide a serious problem. They are some adverse health effects in the cloned animals that include defects in vital organs like heart, brain and liver and also an increase in birth size. Other results have been witnessed with the clone experiencing premature aging and defects with the immune system. An adult donor cell has condemned a clone to having a shorter life span due to shortening of the adult cell that makes it difficult to divide as life goes on.