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The Development of Cloning & Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering may be defined as the modification of the makeup of genetic material in the cell of an organism through recombinant DNA technology. Cloning is the process of genetic engineering through which genetically identically cells are asexually produced from a single cell. Genetic engineering has always intrigues scientists who studied how invertebrates could be reproduced by dividing an organism into two which grew into full organisms. In 1952 Thomas King and Robert Briggs developed nuclear transplantation a cloning method which had been theorized by Hans Spemann. A nucleus is removed from an egg cell of an organism and transplanted into an unspecialized embryo to form a genetically identical organism. In the 1960s and 1970s John Gurdon a molecular biologist at Oxford cloned frogs from nuclei obtained from intestine cells of tadpoles. In 1980 a simple but different procedure which was similar to the process of twinning was developed. By the early 1990s the technology of embryo splitting was used to clone sheep, rabbits, pigs and mice.

In the 1980s and 1990s Researchers recognized that cloning could offer industrial, medicinal and agricultural applications. Livestock which are genetically engineered to transmit genes other than their own could be used to produce certain enzymes and proteins. In 1998 genetically engineered proteins, enzymes and drugs were being produced in the US. In 1998 researchers successfully cloned mice which offer hope for the cloning of human. Animals are being used for the production of drugs which are extracted from animal milk to treat diseases. In 2003 researchers at Texas University produced a disease resistant bull which could make beef safer and ranching more efficient. Through studying cloned embryos doctors have come close to discovering the cause of spontaneous abortions. Oncology has benefitted from genetic engineering since cancer cells develop at similar pace to those of embryo cells. Stem cells research has been used in developing treatments for nervous system and brain damage in mice. In England genetic engineering is used in screening parents for genetically inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis thus reducing complications. In vitro fertilization is used in offering cells which are free of disease for embryos which have inherited genetic diseases. Genetic engineering has developed tremendously over the years. It has come to stand for hope for the betterment of human life through its various agricultural, industrial and medicinal applications.