Storing DNA for future human cloning
by Stephanie H.
Would you like to be cloned? Do you want to store the DNA of your loved ones as an insurance policy? DNA will be needed for cloning and the best way to store DNA for future cloning is not completely clear. There are issues involved such as which cells should be stored and how the cells should be stored.
Dolly, the famous cloned sheep, was created from DNA from a mammary cell that was fused with an egg cell, which had previously had its DNA removed.
Many speculate that the best cells to store for human cloning would be the most undifferentiated cells in the human body. For instance, perhaps stem cells in the blood that have not yet differentiated into a particular type of blood cell. In the male, perhaps germ cells (spermatogonia) before they differentiate into sperm. In the female, perhaps oogonium (the cells that are precursors to the egg cell) might be stored and used for human cloning. The basic thought is that the less differentiated the cell is, the more potential it has to become anything and the less likely there are to be problems when human cloning is done. On the other hand it is much easier to collect a specimen of blood than it is to collect spermatogonia or oogonia. And it's easier yet to collect some hair, mucous cells, or skin cells.
How should cells be stored for future human cloning? Research I have done so far suggests that cells should be collected, stored in "cryoprotectant," and frozen in liquid nitrogen. A cryoprotectant is some substance that helps cells undergo freezing and thawing without damaging the DNA inside them.
Is liquid nitrogen storage essential? This has not become clear yet. In theory, it may someday be possible to take human hairs with the roots intact and use the DNA from them to clone a human being but significant technical problems would be expected.
Where can you store your cells now? I have not been able to track down any company or organization that stores human DNA for possible future cloning. I have searched the Internet extensively and have made dozens of inquiries. If you know anything about processing and storing DNA for future human cloning, please contact me.
What about heparin? Heparin is a blood thinner. It was one of the first agents used to preserve frozen blood. In theory, blood collected and stored in heparin so that it will not clot could be used for future human cloning.
What about CPD? CPD is citrate, phoshate, dextrose. It is thought to be less damaging to cells during the freezing process and thus might be a better cryo-protectant than heparin. CPD is being used today as the preservative in cord blood (from the umbilical cord of newborn babies) to store it in liquid nitrogen for long periods of time. Parents are storing cord blood as insurance against their children getting leukemia. If the cord blood is available the bone marrow of such children can be replaced with their own blood cells after chemotherapy.
What is Neupogen? Neupogen is colony stimulating factor, which is a substance that causes the bone marrow to release stem cells into the blood stream. Why is this important to cloning? Well, cloning experts tend to believe that using poorly-differentiated cells is better than using well-differentiated cells. In plain talk, this means that is probably better to store a stem cell from the blood that has not yet specialized into any particular type of blood cell than it it to use a specialized lymphocyte. The stem cell's DNA is thought to have more "potential" to turn into anything than does the lymphocyte's DNA. By giving someone colony stimulating factor, the stem cells can be collected with a blood draw when normally they would not be present in the bloodstream, only the bone marrow. This is not an FDA approved use of this drug and in fact it is not clear if it has ever been done for the intended purpose of human cloning.
The Human Cloning Foundation is creating a place where anyone can store their DNA for future cloning. It will take some time to get together all the equipment and to establish a location. Announcements will be forthcoming.
[Please note. The link to Mr. G. Sloans company has been removed from this site, in accordance with the wishes of R. H. Wicker, CEO of the Human Cloning Foundation.