DNA Day experts answer your questions about human cloning

Above: Image © RichardUpshur, iStockphoto.com

Is it possible to clone a human?

I don't think we're capable of doing that. And even if it does become possible, I'm skeptical that it will ever be done.

- Answer provided by Dr. Sean Myles

Is it possible to clone dead DNA from my great great great great grandfather?

OK - so it might be. We're better at recovering DNA now than we ever have been. If you had an item - like possibly a hairbrush - that had cells from him, we might be able to recover DNA. Its unlikely we could get his entire genome, but we could get pieces.

- Answer provided by Dr. Thomas Merritt

Will cloning of human DNA ever be possible since the animal DNA cloning attempt was successful?

Well there's a big difference between 'possible' and 'probable.' I'm sure it's technically possible, but while there have been rumours now and again about secret labs cloning humans, there are lots of reasons why this would actually be kind of stupid. Identical twins are the closest thing to cloned humans that we have - but they are far from being literally identical in every way ... Plus they don't have the disadvantage of having an adult clone watching over them every minute trying to make them act just the way they did when they were young!

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram

Will human cloning ever be successful, in your opinion?

I don't think we will ever clone humans. This is not for technical reasons (I'm pretty sure that technology will eventually make this possible), but for ethical reasons. We have seen with cloned animals that they often have health problems, and it would be unethical to clone humans if they are likely to have the same difficulties. In addition, you could never recreate a person by cloning. We are a product of both our genes and our environment, so even if the cloned person had the same genes, their environment and experiences will be different.

- Answer provided by Stephanie Vogt

If two exact clones, a male variant and female variant had offspring, what would happen?

It would be the same as if the two people who had been cloned to create these new individuals had offspring. Providing of course that the cloning events didn't fundamentally change things at the molecular level.

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram

If you were able to clone a person or animal successfully and that human or animal had a disease like cancer would the clone have cancer to?

It depends if the cancer arose by spontaneous mutation or whether is was genetically determined as in some forms of breast cancer (BRCA1 and 2). If the starting material was genetically programmed to have cancer then there would a significant chance the clone would have cancer.

- Answer provided by Dr. Dennis McCormac

Would cloning have the same negative effects as inbreeding? Or simply abnormalities?

Mixing of genetic material through breeding or procreation is critical to keep us healthy. Neither cloning nor inbreeding (to a lesser extent) do that. However, inbreeding in animals happens lots as it will also maintain positive traits between animals. At the same time it will also amplify any genetic defects. Problem with cloning is that the process itself can cause rearrangements or defects in the DNA.

- Answer provided by Dr. Gijs Van Rooijen

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