Cloning - Questions and Answers

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Is cloning "unnatural"?
Not at all - some organisms in nature only reproduce cloning - not only bacteria and yeasts, but also organisms like some snails and shrimp. Because in nature sexual is the only way to improve the genetic stock of a species, most asexual species tend to die off, but at least one - a shrimp Artemia perthenogenetica - has for at least 30 million years. Many more species, including the aphid, reproduce by most of the time, only sexually every few generations. Perhaps one day humankind may follow their lead.


Is an identical twin essentially the same as a clone?
Only if the clone is born at the same time from the same womb as its clone, as we now know that what a fetus is to in the womb, in the way of nutrition or alcohol or drugs or perhaps even stress hormones, can influence its physical and mental .


Could vital organs be grown using cloning without the rest of a body?
- but nobody is even close to knowing how. Contrary to scientists' , the of Dolly shows it is possible to reprogram the cell of an adult (or at least its genome) so that it begins development all over again. This newly discovered means it may one day be possible to reprogram skin or blood cells so that they grow into "spare part" tissues and organs, rather than whole organisms. But the technical will be huge.


Could cloning be used to save endangered species?
At the moment its success rate is very low (Dolly was only after 276 tries) but if this can be improved on it might well turn out to be useful to increase the of hard-to-breed animals. Extinct animals (or animals without females) would be more difficult. A female can't give birth to an animal of a different species.


(From Cloning FAQs in the New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/cloning/cloningfaq.jsp)