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Cloning 9 Essay, Research Paper

Should humans be cloned?

A Time Magazine poll (March 10, 1997) reported that 74% of those asked believe it is against God’s will to clone human beings. President Clinton has banned federal funds from being used for human cloning research, stating that,

“Any discovery that touches upon human creation is not simply a matter of scientific inquiry, it is a matter of morality and spirituality as well… Each human life is unique, born of a miracle that reaches beyond laboratory science…”

But others argue in favor of continuing human cloning research, of continuing to clone human embryos and perhaps cloning adult humans in the future. Some arguments in favor of human cloning might include the fact that cloned human embryos would make research into genetics and genetically related diseases, and their treatments or preventions, much easier and cheaper. Cloning embryos could also facilitate the process of in-vitro fertilization, since the collection and replacement of ova is often painful and traumatic, and can be unsuccessful.

Embryo cloning is also seen as a potential treatment for infertility when in-vitro fertilization is not available, such as when parents are infertile, or when one or both parents harbors a genome coding for certain undesirable traits or diseases, or if the parents are homosexual couples. Cloned embryonic tissues might be used for the replacement of lost or diseased tissues. Also see “Threatened Bans on Human Cloning Research Could Hamper Advances” in the Journal of the American Medical Association , April 2, 1997, vol.277:1023-1026, and “Reproduction Research Held Back by Diffuse Rules, Charged Politics” in The Scientist , March 17, 1997, vol.11, #6:p.1-6.

Adult cloning might appeal to those who desire children/adults who are genetically identical to themselves, or genetically identical to someone who they love or admire. There may be many other, personal reasons why parents would want their children to be genetically identical to someone who is a non family member. Cloning could provide a genetically identical replacement for a lost loved one.

The belief here is that cloning can be justified as an expression of reproductive freedom of choice, a choice that should not be limited by legislation.

However, it is important to remember that a genetic clone, although sharing an identical genome with their donor, will not be physically and behaviorally identical to their donor ! The clone will only be genetically identical to the donor . Their physical and behavioral characteristics will differ in many important and significant ways ! For more information on this important point, please go to: “Nature vs Nurture” .

Is human cloning good or bad, moral or immoral, from a religious perspective?

The most commonly cited ethical and moral arguments against human cloning seem to originate from religious perspectives. These religious arguments can even be made by politicians and scientists with religious sympathies. Many religious philosophies teach, for example, that human life is unique and special and should be created, determined and controlled only by their deities. Many religions believe in the existence of, and in the individuality of, a human soul. Many Christians, for example, will be concerned about whether it will be possible to clone the human soul, along with the human. If it is possible to clone the soul, what will this “mean”? In contrast, if a person is cloned, but not their soul, what will this “mean”? Can a clone without a soul be destroyed and not offend moral or religious beliefs? Cloning will be divined by many as humans assuming the powers, the providence, and the jurisdiction their deities or other spiritual powers of their supernatural universe.

Not all religious leaders feel the same. See for example Religious Positions on Cloning . In contrast to the opinions of their peers, some Jewish and Muslim religious leaders testified before the National Bioethics Advisory Commission that they feel that embryo and cloning research might provide discoveries that would lead to an appropriate way to counter infertility.

Is human cloning legal? Is human cloning scientifically ethical?

Currently, human cloning is illegal in England and Norway, for example, but not illegal in the US. However, in the US, federal, but not private, funds are prohibited from being used to create human embryos (1994) or do research on human embryos if they will be harmed or destroyed (1996-97). In addition, President Clinton has imposed a moratorium on human cloning research (March 4, 1997). Meanwhile, several states in the US have laws restricting embryo research.

As decision makers in the US debate whether or not to support research on human embryos and human cloning many ethical and legal questions arise.

For example, how will the federal ban on human cloning research and the ban on certain types of human embryo research effect other, related fields of research that are deemed important? Human embryo research and embryo cloning can be used to conduct research and development of contraceptives, studies aimed at understanding the causes of human infertility and its solutions, research involving genetic testing, genetic engineering, disease diagonsis, prevention and treatment, and in testing various medicines and medical procedures.

In contrast, if the government funds this type of research, then it will have some important control over the nature of the research. But what kind of controls might these be? Will the government decide to have an interest in protecting embryos from certain kinds of research? Would unused embryos, left after in-vitro fertilization procedures, be treated as “spare” embryos and given a different status for research purposes? Will Democrates vote on this research the same way the Republicans would?

If the federal government decides to continue to not fund human embryo and cloning research,then the government will not have one important avenue for controling, to some degree, the nature of the research. If the government refuses to support this research, would a funding vacuum be left that market forces will quickly fill?

If the private sector is left to fund research and development, then will this research be driven by entrepreneurial profit motives? What effects will entrepreneurial forces have on the nature of human embryo and cloning research and development?

Is there Constitutional protection for research on human embryos and human cloning? Does the First Amendment guarantee academic freedom, and the right to think, inquire, and do research? When or should the research involving human embryos and cloning be defined as “academic research and inquiry”? If this research is defined as academic, should the scientific research on human embryos and cloning be protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees the “freedom of speech”? be

There are limits to the kinds of speech that the First Amendment protects. For example, it does not protect speech that is deemed to be obscene, or speech deemed threatening to national security. Some citizens believe that research into and/or trying to clone humans is wrong, while others disagree. When considering whether or not cloning research, or other kinds of academic research, inquiry, and scientific communication are to be protected, and to what degree, by the First Amendment, the government decision makers have to decide how best to balance protecting the freedoms of speech and inquiry of the scientific community- and the benefits their research might produce- against the need to protect other citizens from any dangers this kind of freedom of speech, and its products, might also produce. For a discussion of First Amendment rights and academic freedoms, see the “Symposium on Academic Freedom” in Texas Law Review , vol.66, 1988.

In the absence of governmental controls, can/or should the scientific community regulate itself, through peer review, when it comes to human embryo and cloning research? Should society entrust the scientific community to regulate themselves? Would this allow and encourage practices leading to conflicts of interest?

Should some other private organization, independent of the scientific community or the federal government, have this responsibility? Should human embryo and cloning research be restricted by the state or local governments, or some combination of these?

Finally, and perhaps more importantly, if there is a market for human embryo and cloning research, and the products of their research, can any type of legislation, at any level, aimed at restricting them be effectively enforced?

A democracy is designed to facilitate a balance between competing interests, to achieve the maximum benefit for the maximum number of its citizens. The introduction of new technology challenges a democratic society to decide who gets what, when, where, and how much. The advent of cloning via nuclear transfer technology presents the inevitability of new and important social changes, and new issues concerning this power, and who controls it, are at hand.

MEET ‘GENE.’ This six-month old bull is just the latest in what is fast becoming a barnyard full of cloned animals. Its developer, ABS Global is pursuing animal cloning as a means of producing superior livestock.

In addition, cloned animals carrying specific introduced genes may bring to fruition the idea of “pharming” — using domesticated animals to produce drugs and other medically important substances. Genetically-modified sheep, goats and cattle are already being used experimentally as ‘bioreactors’ to produce human proteins in their milk, but cloning should simplify the process of introducing foreign genes into large numbers of animals.

According to the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh key targets include:

Human therapeutic proteins

Organs and tissues for transplants

Nutriceuticals

‘Humanized’ cows milk

Animal models of disease

Cell therapy agents

————————————————————————

Comparing Two

Cloning Techniques:

Roslin Institute

Infigen

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MORE EXPLORATIONS

Cloning Hits

the Big Time

Genetic copying of animals is attracting commercial interest.

When scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh reported last February that they had cloned an adult sheep, their work immediately captivated the public.

But some cautious researchers wondered whether the success might not be a flash in the pan. After all, the Scottish workers had to try 277 times before they succeeded in producing the clone, named Dolly. Unless the efficiency of the cloning process could be greatly improved, it seemed unlikely to become a common technique for producing improved strains of livestock. Moreover, Dolly’s birth did not prove that cloning could be used to create animals from cells that had been genetically manipulated. Unless cloning could be combined with sophisticated genetic manipulation, the technique seemed unlikely to realize its full potential.

Just six months later, it seems clear that doubts are unfounded. While the debate focused on Dolly, a number of other corporate and academic laboratories were quietly pushing ahead with similar projects. At least two U.S. companies–ABS Global of De Forest, Wisc., and Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Mass.–have successfully impregnated cows and pigs using cloned cells. In addition, the work over the past six months has demonstrated that cloning works perfectly well on cells that have been genetically altered.

Both corporate contenders claim that their cloning techniques are highly efficient. And neither is making any bones about its commercial intentions. In early August, ABS Global simultaneously introduced a six month old bull named Gene and announced it had formed a new subsidiary, called Infigen, to “commercialize applications of cloning technologies in the cattle breeding, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and xenotransplantation fields.”

Separately, Neal First of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has established, at least transiently, pregnancies in five different species using cloned adult cells. First says he has developed a “universal cloning system” based on cow egg cells that he has used to impregnate cows, sheep, rats, pigs and monkeys.

HARBINGER. Last February, the Roslin Institute’s lamb, named Dolly, became the first animal clone to capture public attention.

In cloning procedures generally, nuclei are extracted from cultured cells that might have come originally from an embryo, a fetus or an adult organism. The nuclei are inserted into egg cells which have had their original nucleus removed, a process called nuclear transfer. In the initial work at the Roslin Institute, the egg cells along with their transplanted nuclei were then implanted directly into a foster mother, where they developed and, in the case of Dolly, resulted in a viable offspring.

Researchers at Infigen use a variation on the Roslin approach, explains research director Michael D. Bishop. Rather than transferring just the nucleus, the ABS workers fuse a whole donor cell with an enucleated (nucleus removed) egg cell, a process that is helped along with a jolt of electricity. These donor cells are relatively unspecialized cells taken from fetuses.

When the resulting embryo has divided into about sixteen cells, it is broken up, or disaggregated, into its component cells. The resulting cells are themselves fused with other enucleated egg cells. These second-generation cells are then implanted into foster mothers to develop, which many of them do successfully. The calf “Gene” was cloned from fetal cells using this technique; the company expects to announce the births of cattle cloned from adult cells shortly. By selectively making copies of genetically superior animals, Infigen’s corporate parent hopes to boost its share of the lucrative market for bull semen. It might eventually begin selling cloned, genetically-altered animals, says Bishop.

Advanced Cell Technology, for its part, has initiated dozens of clone pregnancies in cows and some in pigs. The company says it anticipates the first births in the near future. For these clones, the donor cells were fibroblasts taken from fetuses. The genomes of these cells can be relatively easily and precisely manipulated through a technique known as targeted gene replacement. “Advanced Cell Technology has the ability to produce transgenic animals using fetal fibroblast nuclear transfer,” claims Steve Parkinson, president and chief executive officer.

Parkinson contends that targeted gene replacement produces cells having specific genetic alterations far more effectively than the traditional technique for making transgenic animals, which entails injecting DNA into cell nuclei. He reports that Advanced Cell Technology plans to clone genetically altered animals whose neural tissue would be immunologically compatible with that of humans. Clinical trials of such tissue on patients with Parkinson’s disease could start by 1999, he says.

Cloning progress is not restricted to the U.S. Since the February breakthrough, PPL Therapeutics of Edinburgh, which collaborates with the Roslin Institute, has produced five lambs from fetal cells that were genetically modified to carry marker genes and genes for human proteins. Lambs produced from the genetically manipulated cells produce foreign proteins; such animals may be able to manufacture large quantities of medically valuable human proteins in their milk. The result “brings nearer the human benefits from nuclear transfer work,” says Ron James, managing director of PPL. The same company is also working on cloned cattle in the U.S.

Dolly, then, was more than just an overnight sensation. Rather, cloning seems set to become a vital technology for agriculture and medicine. “I think the possibility is there that it might really move large-animal transgenic work forward much more rapidly,” says Vernon Pursell of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In other words, better forget the jokes and starting looking at the stock prices.

–Tim Beardsley, staff writer

RELATED LINKS:

“A Clone in Sheep’s Clothing” by Tim Beardsley; Scientific American Exploration, March 3, 1997

Readers’ opinions on cloning; Scientific American Forum, March 3, 1997

Interview with Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute from Salon

Cloning analysis from Nature

Agbiotech: resources in agricultural biotechnology

On this page, we’re putting together some educational tools to help people with an interest in bioethics learn about what bioethics means, how it is studied, and where it can take you. Though this page is still under construction, you can search our list of faculty to find someone who can answer your questions or speak to your school or community group, and talk with them over the INTERNET, or visit some of our other resources. Here’s a list of faculty at the center, a list of papers we’ve made available, and our genetics project.

Special thanks the Microsoft Corporation for their contribution to our site. The following information came from Microsoft Encarta.

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From Encarta Encyclopedia 1998:

Medical Ethics or Bioethics, study of moral issues in the fields of medical treatment and research. The term is also sometimes used more generally to describe ethical issues in the life sciences and the distribution of scarce medical resources. The professional fields that deal with ethical issues in medicine include medicine, nursing, law, sociology, philosophy, and theology, though in the late 20th century medical ethics has come to be recognized as its own discipline.

Medical ethics traces its roots to several early codes of ethics such as the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath, which required physicians above all to “do no harm”; professional codes of ethics such as the one written by English physician Thomas Percival in the 18th century that provided a foundation for the first code of ethics established in 1846 by the founders of the American Medical Association; and the Nuremberg Code for research ethics on human subjects that was established during the war crime trials at the close of World War II in response to the gross abuses in human experimentation performed in Nazi Germany. The advent of new medical and reproductive technologies after the 1950s further complicated the moral and societal issues of medical research and practice. This article discusses several of the most prominent issues in medical ethics.

Research Ethics

In 1966 Henry Beecher, a prominent physician at the Harvard Medical School, published an important paper reporting a variety of abuses of human subjects in medical research at major universities and medical centers in the United States. The ethical violations he cited included the use of subjects without their consent and the participation in medical research of subjects who have not been offered the option of standard treatment. Beecher’s article triggered discussions and debate inside and outside of medicine about the importance and practicality of obtaining consent from research subjects or surrogates if the subjects could not provide consent for themselves.

Concerns about research ethics were further heightened by a research project called the Tuskegee Study, sponsored by the United States Public Health Service to assess the clinical course of syphilis. Public health researchers conducting the study, which began in 1932 and was ended at the direction of the Congress of the United States in 1972, withheld both diagnostic information and effective treatment from black men enrolled in the study in order to retain their ongoing participation. The abuses of the Tuskegee Study prompted the formulation of a national commission to examine ethical issues in research, and eventually led Congress to enact regulations requiring informed consent from participants and the review of all federally funded health research by appointed review boards.

Reproductive Medicine

Many new questions of medical ethics have occurred as a result of developments in reproductive medicine. Most of the issues concern the rights of humans to control both their bodies and the embryos that can be created from their sex cells.

In the 1960s the development of the birth-control pill raised ethical issues, especially for people whose religions forbade the use of artificial birth control. In 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States legalized abortion with its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Controversy surrounding the ruling, including discussion of the origins and meaning of personhood, the rights of the fetus and pregnant women, and the role the state should play in reproductive decisions have kept abortion a volatile political and ethical issue into the 1990s. In the 1980s French researchers developed RU-486, a drug that can induce abortion without invasive procedures. RU-486 has contributed to the heated debate about the morality of abortion and is still awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

Fertility is also an important area of medical ethics. Many couples who are unable to have children turn to fertility-enhancing technologies for help. Artificial insemination (introduction of semen into the cervix through technical means rather than sexual intercourse) raised new ethical issues about how potential parents should choose sperm or egg donors, on what basis and with what assurances of privacy should donors be recruited, and whether donors are entitled to parental rights or compensation.

In 1978 the birth of the first so-called test-tube baby (a method in which fertilization of the ovum with sperm was conducted in a laboratory and the resulting embryo was subsequently implanted in the mother’s uterus), was an important technological breakthrough. It was soon followed by the development of a variety of other in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques. Not surprisingly, in vitro fertilization has raised significant ethical questions, including some about the safety and access to the costly technique. Because the IVF procedure may not be successful, doctors may fertilize and implant more than one embryo to increase the chances of success. Questions have arisen over what to do with fertilized eggs that are not implanted, and the potential burden on a couple if the implanted embryos result in multiple births. Another question concerns the fate of human embryos if the couples who created them died, become incapacitated, or no longer want to have children.

The debate is further complicated by the use of tissues and organs from aborted fetuses for research or transplantation. Disputes about the ethical acceptability of using human embryos, either those frozen at infertility clinics or donated solely for experimentation in biomedical research has led to ethical and public policy debate about the moral status of embryos.

Advances in prenatal diagnostic techniques such as genetic testing in the 1960s and 1970s made it possible to test a fetus (and more recently an embryo) for genetic diseases, such as sickle-cell anemia, and other disorders prior to birth. These techniques, including amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, led to discussions about the morality of using medicine to end pregnancies based on the predicted disability and quality of life that the baby might face. Moreover, prenatal information can also be obtained about such conditions as gender and even personality, raising additional ethical questions about the rights of parents to design their descendants.

Economic Issues

Medical ethics has also addressed many issues in the area of economics. In the 1960s the scarcity of dialysis machines, which remove wastes from the blood of people with kidney failure, prompted several institutions to create committees whose function was to select which patients would receive this life-saving treatment. In the 1980s several factors, including the scarcity of organs for transplantation and criticisms about distribution of organs according to recipient’s ability to pay, prompted the United States and other nations to set up national systems for the distribution of organs. These systems are based on such criteria as the patient’s place on a waiting list, the match between the recipient and the donor organ, and the severity of the patient’s illness.

In the 1990s increasing emphasis has been placed on minimizing costs in health care. Medical ethicists have closely examined the fairness of schemes devised to lower costs, such as managed care, and an increased emphasis on the market to distribute medical resources in many nations. Many ethicists are concerned about the potential for conflict between the desire to hold down costs and the duties of health-care providers to act as strong advocates for those in their care.

Society Versus the Individual

Medical ethics issues are also posed by conflicts between society and individuals. For example, people sometimes refuse proven, effective treatments for themselves or their children on the grounds of religious or other personal objections to traditional medicine. When these personal beliefs jeopardize the health of an individual, questions arise as to the right of the medical community and the state to intervene. Patients with dangerous infectious diseases have sometimes refused to follow proven treatments, such as those for tuberculosis, thus endangering the community. In such situations, medical ethicists are working to establish codes that balance the interests of society with the rights of individuals.

Many individuals in the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia who are afflicted with terminal diseases or chronic diseases that impair their quality of life have requested the right to assistance in dying, aided by health-care providers. Opponents of assisted-death object that physician participation in assisting people to die violates the basic moral obligations of physicians to do no harm. The debate about the desirability of legalizing euthanasia (painless termination of life to end a terminally ill patient’s suffering) raises a host of ethical and legal questions, from how to assess the competency of those requesting death to whether, and to what degree, physician or nurse involvement is necessary for those seeking to end their lives. Early in 1996 two federal court decisions overturned bans on assisted suicide in New York and Washington state, allowing physicians to prescribe medications that would hasten death in mentally competent people who are suffering in the final stages of terminal illness. Both these decisions will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court. Oregon is the only state that has passed a law in favor of assisted suicide.

Future Directions In Medical Ethics

New genetic technologies promise to make medical ethics an even more central part of social decision making. The Human Genome Project, a 15-year, federally funded $3 billion effort to code the entire human genetic map, has already resulted in the discovery of a number of genes that may lead to particular diseases or traits. This project will also give individuals more information about their own genetic make-up. Medical ethicists are debating whether or not this genetic information is the exclusive property of patients, or is instead properly the concern of insurers, employers, and society.

Gene therapies are also being developed that use genetically engineered viruses to manipulate the cells of patients. Some have wondered about whether the manipulation of human cells through genetic engineering is somehow contrary to the laws of nature or religion; others have proposed that it will lead to the manipulation of human sperm or eggs for eugenic purposes (improving the hereditary qualities of a race). This issue, as most of the ethical issues mentioned in this article, remains unresolved and will continue to challenge medical ethicists well into the 21st century.

Contributed by:

Glenn McGee

Arthur L. Caplan

————————————————————————

“Medical Ethics,” Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Following is a current review of bioethics from the past year from Encyclopedia Americana and the Grolier Corporation.

Bioethics 1997

from Encyclopedia Americana Annual

In 1997, there were many remarkable discoveries in medicine and research. 1997 also saw more publicized debate than ever before in bioethics. Bioethics problems seemed to never stop in 1997, including: a the Supreme Court ruling on assisted suicide, the birth of a cloned sheep, the birth of a child conceived of a frozen egg, the accidental birth of septuplets, a natural birth to a 63 year-old woman, the announcement of a presidential commission on cloning, the creation of a bioengineered cloned sheep, and a national movement to include alternative medicine in healthcare insurance.

NEW KINDS OF REPRODUCTION

Those seeking new ways to have families saw remarkable new options take shape in 1997. While adoption of those from war-torn nations continued to increase, in the U.S. the success rates of in vitro fertilization were controversial as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a major report on the success rates for assisted reproduction. Success rates as low as 15% per attempt, at an average cost of $6,000, were a source of alarm as bioethicists questioned the value of a $1 billion national expenditure for assisted reproductive services. Meanwhile in February, Scottish veterinary biologist Ian Wilmot announced the successful birth of a cloned sheep, made when his team transplanted the DNA from an adult sheep’s mammory cell into another sheep’s egg. In March, scientists at the Oregon Primate Center announced they had transplanted the nucleas of a monkey fertilized embryo cell into another embryonic cell, producing a clone of a primate embryo. The news excited many in veterinary and agricultural settings, and promised to speed research on human pharmaceuticals by providing identical test animals. However, it was immediately apparent that at some point in the future it might be possible to clone a human using the same or similar technology. President Clinton funded a Commission on Bioethics in the Department of Health and Human Services to study the possibility of cloning, and after 90 days the commission reported that human cloning should not be attempted for 5 years, urging a congressional moratoria. Congress considered similar legislation but did not act.

Ethicists worried that cloning would present the opportunity for families to replicate rather than reproduce, and that families with cloned children would thus not allow their children to have freedom to explore their own horizons. Others suggested that while cloning might be appropriate for some families, allowing cloning technology to be governed by the marketplace seemed fundamentally unfair. Still other policy analysts and ethicists worried of the possibility that cloning technology might be used by tyrants or small military forces to create engineered humans. By mid-April, however, ethicists had emerged who were willing to defend human cloning. It was argued that cloning is less morally problematic than families created by sperm or egg donation, because cloned children are at least products of their families’ DNA. Others claimed that cloning to produce children for families needing a bone marrow transplant might be appropriate. The debate about cloning of humans emerged as a major area of study to be faced in 1998, as everyone feared the possibility that this technique might be used by someone irresponsibly – and doubts emerged about the ability of the U.S. or United Nations to police biotechnology.

It was also discovered in 1997, by accident, that infertility treatments and gestation may be possible for post-menopausal women of advanced age. 63 year-old Arceli Keh lied to a University of Southern California reproduction clinic and was able to successfully carry a child to term, giving birth in September to a child. Ethicists wondered whether or not menopause should be a barrier for gestation, and some speculated that elder pregnancy might be a moral problem since the parent is unlikely to live past the child’s adolescence. However, others argued that elder males have families with some frequency and that if safety turns out not to be an issue there should be no age barrier. In November, another accident resulted in the birth of septuplets to a family in Iowa. Shortly after their infertility treatment resulted in multiple gestations, a common result of such treatment, the family determined that they would not “selectively reduce” the number of fetuses but instead attempt to carry 7 to term. Although this had never before been recorded, the children were born uneventfully and given critical care in an Iowa hospital. Many supported the family, as the governor of Iowa donated a house and a food company donated a year’s baby food. However, the medical costs for the family are expected to top $5 million in the first year, prompting many ethicists to ask again at what cost will infertility treatment be provided.


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