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Cloning is the artificial propagation (in vitro, i.e. in a test tube or laboratory) of a cell or a gene. It involves transferring the genetic information (DNA) of an individual into a cell and promoting its multiplication by placing it in cultivation. This genetic manipulation provides a series of cells identical in every way to the orignal: clones. The first cloning performed on a mammal was done in 1996 in Scotland. In this case, the cloned sheep, Dolly, was the perfect replica of another sheep. As for human cloning, it involves transplanting the nucleus of a cell, called a receptor, to a cell devoid of its original core. In this process, the cells generated are not strictly identical to the original cell because genetic code of the recipient cell is promoted. The cloned cells will still be relatively close to the base cell. This technique raises many ethical problems, because it is impossible to predict in advance the ultimate results, precisely because the recipient cell may partially modify the genetic code of the new core that has been injected.

With cloning, it is possible to make multiple exact copies of one single cell. This allows us to further study the biology of bacteria for example, by reproducing it in large numbers with exactly the same characteristics. In biology, cloning can help produce vaccines by multiplying antigens that will fight against certain viruses. Cloning could allow us in the future to better carry out in vitro fertilization. It would become possible to transfer a new genetic code into a cell that would then be implanted into the uterus of a surrogate. It is also believed that in the future, cloning will be used in a therapeutic point of view. A person providing his genome could, in case of destruction of certain cells, replace them with new copies of his own cells.