Fusion cell cloning is a method of asexual reproduction that involves replacing the DNA of an unfertilised egg with DNA of a different cell. If the cloning is successful, the egg grows into an organism identical to the organism that donated the new DNA. The donor cell that is placed in the nucleus must be pluripotent--that is, it must be capable of developing into all other cells required for the organism to develop. The pluripotent cells used for fusion cell cloning come in two varieties: embryonic stem cells derived from a developing embryo or adult stem cells obtained from an adult organism's spinal cord, brain and connective tissues.
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Advocates of fusion cell cloning believe that the development of organisms from stem cells may pave the way for therapeutic cloning. Therapeutic cloning involves developing a clone of an organism that may essentially be used to replace defective parts for the original organism. The theoretical advantage of therapeutic cloning is that there would be no chance of organ rejection; if you replace a failed liver with a liver crafted from your own DNA, then your body should readily accept it. However, current methods are still far removed from any immediate benefits of therapeutic cloning. Clones created using fusion cell cloning still tend to be unstable, with most clones exhibiting shorter than average lifespans, genetic defects and tumours.
Fusion cell cloning has also been advocated as an alternate method for people who suffer from a reproductive disability. Creating a cloned child would allow homosexual couples and couples who lack viable eggs or sperm to create a child who mirrors the DNA of one of the parents. It is even theoretically possible to clone a dying child, or for a post-menopausal woman, to still reproduce. As with therapeutic uses of cloning, these uses still are largely speculative and are dependent on further developments in cloning technology.
A third potential use for fusion cell cloning is production of more useful animals. With further developments in cloning technology it may be possible to directly recreate the cows that produce the most nutritious milk, or the chickens that produce the greatest output of eggs. Cloning may also pave the way for easier reproduction of genetically engineered animals with pharmaceutical uses. For example, if you could effectively engineer a cow that produced high levels of insulin in its milk, then you could produce direct clones of that cow that would produce similarly high levels of insulin in their milk.
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