Human Cloning has been one of the most intriguing topics in modern day Science. It has fascinated scientist and researchers alike. Cloning is a process of asexually reproducing identical individuals with similar genetic make-up. It also refers to a process in biotechnology that generates multiple copies of a DNA fragment. The term clone comes from the Greek word, which means twig or a branch. It was derived from a process in horticulture where in a plant is cutting a branch and replanting it. Many countries around the world focus their research in cloning particularly, on humans.
China is one these countries to fund a research program for cloning. In the 21st century, China has proven itself as one of the powerful nations in the world. It was thought as a “sleeping giant of the east” but after the recent Beijing Olympics, China was considered the “rising dragon of the east”. During the 1980s, Zhangjiang HiTech Park of Pudong District in Shanghai provided the Chinese National Human Genome Center. This marked the start of the Genomic Era in China. In the late 1980s, the scientists of Fudan University were funded by the Chinese High Technology Research and Development Program The program was also called the 863 program.
The aim of the project was to construct a map of the human genome. The scientist constructed a DNA library for mapping genetic related diseases. This project was later developed into another project also funded by the 863 program. Fujian University, Ruijin Hospital and the Cancer Institute of Shanghai were assigned to produce a new genomic technology by means of molecular genetics. The research aims to look for cures for genetic diseases including cancer. They were also trying to utilize medical genetics in their research.
The institute of Basic Medicine, Chinese Academy of Medical Science was independently doing another research on another genome project. They were developing a rare cutter restriction enzyme to help in the analysis of massive DNA fragments of human genome. These efforts and processes were the spark of the genome research in China. The early 1990s was the beginning of the Human Genome Project (HGP) for the U. S. A. , but China responded by participating in the International Rice Genome Project led by Japan. China, the largest developing country in the world was concern of food security, because they consider rice as their staple food source.
Mapping the genome of rice is easier than of humans. It is only 400Mb. It is a nice model for monocotyledon plants, which may be useful for other grain crops. On the other hand, some of China’s scientist still conducts researches on the Human Genome Project independently. A prominent character during that time was WU Min, who at that time was the director of the Department of Life Science, National Natural Department of Life Science in China (NSCFC), suggesting the NSFC committee to lead some major projects for the Human Genome Project. Thus, the project pushed through and it was the considered the first major human genome project in China.
It was funded to study the gene variation of 56 Chinese individuals. Meanwhile, the Chinese scientists who were studying medical genetics accepted the concept of genomic. They made outstanding breakthroughs in their research particularly on cancer genes. They successfully cloned and identified genes that are related to leukemia and solid tumors and other genetic diseases such as deafness. These researches contributed a great deal for the scientific community. An academician named Tan Jia-Zhen to speed up the human genome project in China in July 1997.
The petition attracted the attention of JIANG Ze-Min, President of the People’s Republic of China. The president officially inaugurated the Chinese National Human Genome Center in Shanghai. It was the first national research center located in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park of Pudong District. Another research center was established in the city of Beijing. The National Genome Center of Beijing was created with the support of the Beijing Municipal Government and the Ministry of Science and Technology. The rice genome project was not abandoned during the climax of the human genome project.
The “Huada” Genome center was found by the Institute of Genetics. It aims to look for the connection between the rice genome project and the human genome project. The basic gene sequencing was compared. The Human Genome Project is the backbone of human cloning. However, the United Nations banned human cloning due to ethical issues and the undiscovered dangers it may post to our race. Cloning the entire human being is prohibited but there researches that aims to clone only several organs in the body. This is beneficial for organ transplants because it provides a near perfect compatibility to the patient.
The Human Genome Project is also interested in the study of stem cells. These are cells which are responsible for the development of the body during conception. The scientists are interested in looking for specific genes that are responsible for hereditary diseases. If they can actually pin point those genes, they may be able to create a disease free human. It is still debatable, if cloning is ethical. Religious groups still protest because it is an intervention to nature. Human cloning is plausible but it may not be possible in this lifetime. There are more issues that have to be resolve for it to become a reality.