Conspiracy Theorists Believe Scientists Have Started Cloning Humans 25 Years After Dolly The Sheep
The 25th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first-ever cloned mammal, passed last month, and people are convinced that cloning has already progressed to humans.
Dolly first found fame when she was born on July 5, 1996, in Scotland, after having being cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer.
Dolly was cloned by British biologist Keith Campbell, embryologist Ian Wilmut and other team members at the Roslin Institute, which is part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
However, Dolly’s fame is about to be overshadowed, as conspiracy theorists have taken to the internet in the belief that since Dolly’s successful arrival, scientists have taken to cloning humans too.
Dolly had three different mothers in her cloning. One who provided her egg, the second provided her DNA, and finally the third mother carried the cloned embryo to term.
She was created by a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. The process begins with a cell nucleus from an adult cell being transferred into an unfertilized developing egg cell that has had its own cell nucleus removed. The hybrid cell is then given an electric shock so it divides and develops into a blastocyst, before it is finally implanted into a surrogate mother.
While Dolly was not the first mammal to be cloned, she became so famous because she was the first cloned from an adult cell.
Despite Dolly’s successful birth, she later got put down due to suffering from progressive lung disease and arthritis. She died just short of her seventh birthday, on February 14, 2003. However, the disease was not thought to be connected to her being a clone. She had lived her whole life at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian and conceived six lambs with a Welsh Mountain ram.
PPL Therapeutics and the Ministry of Agriculture funded the famous sheep’s cloning, with PPL Therapeutics then going on to clone five female piglets from adult pig cells in 2000.
Subsequently, Dolly is not the only mammal to have been cloned, with pigs, cats, deer, horses, dogs, mice, wild goats, gray wolves and monkeys continuing her legacy.
However, it appears that the cloning of monkeys in particular has sparked some interesting conspiracy theories.
According to Live Science, while the cloning of humans would be ‘unethical’, experts have said that it is biologically possible.
So it is unsurprising that when one Reddit user asked the question, ‘What conspiracy theory do you fully believe is true?’ another user replied:
Human cloning has already been done or attempted. We cloned a sheep named Dolly in 1996, and humans aren’t that much different to sheep in their early blastocyst or embryonic development. Some government agency has probably cloned a human and are watching over that person right now.
The reply received more than 6,700 likes and almost 500 responses. With one user saying, ‘It could be everywhere.’
Another said: ‘They publicly talked about cloning monkeys not too long ago and even about making a genetic chimera with human DNA, which they killed early in development. So yah. For sure.’
A third commented: ‘My best friend is a geneticist (I personally have a degree in it too). We both agree with you. The science isn’t that hard. In ethical terms, as long as the person has a normal upbringing and they’re well looked after, there’s way worse genetics related things to attempt. Plenty of willing and eager participants out there too.’
Indeed, the users’ theories are not so far fetched. In November 2018, Chinese biophysics researcher He Jiankui made his claim to fame by saying that he had made the first genetically edited human babies.
Jiankui’s genetic experiment was in the hopes of editing the babies to be immune to HIV infection, in addition to small pox and cholera. However, the Guidelines for Ethical Principles in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research state in Article Six that if human embryos are used in research, they must not be allowed to develop past 14 days.
The arrival of the twin girls was at first praised as a major scientific advancement, before further inspection was carried out into how the experiment took place. Subsequent investigations resulted in Jiankui’s research activities being suspended by Chinese authorities on November 29, 2018.
Jiankui was later sentenced to three years in jail following his experimentation and fined three million yuan (£327,900 GBP, $429,300 USD). Two of his fellow researchers were also sentenced. None of the three were qualified to work as doctors when the experiment was carried out, according to Xinhua.
The court said the team had performed the experiment ‘in the pursuit of personal fame and gain’ and had knowingly violated China’s regulations and ethical principles.
So, since Jiankui’s experiment, are internet users right in their theories that 25 years after Dolly the sheep, humans have in fact been being cloned?
While Jiankui’s experiment focused on genetic editing to try to make babies immune to HIV, small pox and cholera, the internet is convinced that whether it be by the government or military bases, human cloning has been done since and that it is even being done in the present day. So if you see your doppelgänger out and about, then maybe, just maybe, they could share a lot more in common with you than you think.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]