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About Research Cloning


Some scientists are working with human tissues on a technique known as research cloning (also called somatic cell nuclear transfer or SCNT) in an effort to produce genetically specific embryonic stem cells.

SCNT involves putting the nucleus of a body cell into an egg from which the nucleus has been removed. The resulting clonal embryo is induced to begin dividing with chemicals or electricity. When it has developed to about 100 cells, stem cells are harvested from it.

The Basic Science

Frequently Asked Questions

Arguments Pro & Con

Producing human stem cell lines using research cloning has been difficult, although clonal embryos have been successfully derived. In early 2006, claims by Hwang Woo Suk to have cloned human embryos and derived stem cell lines from them were revealed to be fraudulent. In 2013, a team at Oregon State did report success, and in 2014 two other teams duplicated the result.

Research cloning raises concerns: risks to women whom scientists are asking to provide the necessary eggs; exaggerated and probably unrealistic claims of "personalized" therapies; and, because the same technique would be the first step in reproductive cloning, the need for effective oversight to prevent efforts to produce cloned humans. If the many technical obstacles to such treatments were ever overcome, they would likely be enormously expensive, and thus inaccessible to most people.

In recent years, the slow progress in research cloning and increased success with creating genetically specific stem cells via reprogramming methods have led many scientists to abandon the former field. A 2014 comparison of the results, conducted by a cloning specialist, suggested that stem cells produced by cloning have no advantage over those produced by reprogramming.




Are All Pluripotent Stem Cells Equal?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014A new paper by long-term advocates of research cloning implies that it has no advantage over reprogramming cells.
Scientists Find That SCNT Derived Cells and IPS Cells are SimilarNew York Stem Cell FoundationNovember 6th, 2014Cells derived from these two methods resulted in cells with highly similar gene expression and DNA methylation patterns and similar amounts of DNA mutations.
Orphan Black: The Best Show You’ve Never Seenby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2014A BBC America television series about clones is seriously good.
Renewed Concerns For Women As Cloning Technology Advances[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by John FarrellForbesMay 23rd, 2014The recent cloning breakthroughs highlight a lack of engagement with the issue from the bioethical perspective.
Free Dolly!by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 15th, 2014The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that cloned animals cannot be patented.
Dolly the Sheep’s Clones Deemed Unpatentable by U.S. Courtby Susan DeckerBloombergMay 8th, 2014The Scottish scientists famous for concocting Dolly the sheep lost a bid to get U.S. patent protection for the cloned animal. A court said their creations are just genetic copies of naturally occurring beings.
Stem Cell Revival: The 1990s are BackNew ScientistApril 30th, 2014More than 17 years later, what worked in Dolly the sheep finally appears to be working in humans. But after endless hope, hype and failure, it is hard to feel there is anything brave or new in this line of research.
Stem Cells Made by Cloning Adult Humansby Monya BakerNatureApril 28th, 2014Two research groups have independently produced human embryonic stem-cell lines from embryos cloned from adult cells. But the technique is expensive, technically difficult and ethically fraught.
Neanderthals Are People, Tooby Svante PaaboThe New York TimesApril 24th, 2014Ancient genomes show that the Neanderthals were genetically very similar to us. In a civilized society, we would never create a human being in order to satisfy scientific curiosity; why would it be different for a Neanderthal?
Top 5 Challenges for SCNT Cloned Human Embryonic Stem Cellsby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogApril 21st, 2014A new advance in cloning to produce human embryonic stem cells is important because it shows it can be done using adult cells. However, key challenges and concerns remain.
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