Most of the newspaper buzz on the topic of cloning has been centered on reproduction cloning, i.e. asexual reproduction of animals or plants mostly in an artificial manner. Reproduction cloning made big waves when Dolly, the first cloned animal was announced. While this kind of cloning has its pros and cons, there’s another form of less debatable cloning termed DNA cloning.
Back in the late ’80s or early ’90s, DNA cloning was much more popular among the masses. The technology still is very powerful and of great interest to microbiologists, yielding great results in the fields of medicine and agriculture. It’s just that the media is focusing more on reproduction cloning now.
DNA cloning is based on the formation of a hybrid molecule of DNA, which is termed Recombinant DNA. This technique involves the isolation of one fragment of DNA, which is then combined with a DNA molecule either from the same organism, or another one. The result is a hybrid DNA molecule that has properties different than the two DNAs that it is a combination of. The recombinant DNA is then inserted into the cell where it is planned to replicate nature and increase in number, thereby exhibiting the desired characteristics.
DNA cloning can be achieved by either of the two methods that are namely, cell-based cloning and polymerase chain reaction.
DNA cloning has proved very beneficial for medical and healthcare issues. Many illnesses are caused due to the fact that certain cells become unable to produce essential proteins that are required by the human body. Applications of DNA cloning technology help doctors treat these patients as well as those having problems with inherited diseases. In layman language, it’s all about replacing the flawed gene with a healthy one.
As for the agriculture and livestock industries, the truth is that DNA cloning, without its name being used, has been practiced for more than 10,000 years. By making use of the selective breeding procedures in animal farming and planting with the seeds obtained from the strongest of the planets, man’s ultimate goal was to obtain the best of crops and animals. This indeed was the start of genetic engineering in its simplest form.
With the advancement in DNA cloning technology, we are now able to produce genetically engineered food and develop new genes in animals that help them grow stronger.
Despite the controversies associated with the subject of DNA cloning, it has opened doors to many new opportunities in genetic science.