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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.




‘Motherless babies!’ How to create a tabloid science headline in five easy stepsby Gretchen VogelScience MagazineSeptember 14th, 2016A modest research report on cell division is translated as a hyperbolic breakthrough. Gretchen Vogel critiques the flaws of hype-driven, click-bait journalism.
What Ever Happened to Cloning?[cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Kimberly LeonardUS News & World ReportAugust 4th, 2016Twenty years since Dolly, the field of cloning remains highly inefficient for animals and too unethical to attempt with humans.
Two Decades After Dollyby Pete ShanksJuly 12th, 201620 years after the first cloned mammal was born, the US still does not have legal prohibitions on cloned people, or on heritable human genetic modification.
It's been 20 years since Dolly. Where's my clone?by Sharon BegleySTATJuly 5th, 2016Cloning some animals is much harder than cloning others.
Updates: The California Legislature and the Market in Human Eggsby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2016The fertility industry-sponsored bill is opposed by a range of women’s health, reproductive justice, and public interest organizations.
On the 14-Day Rule and Other Limitsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 29th, 2016Speed limits are somewhat arbitrary but sensible; so is the 14-day rule for embryo research.
Will California Expand the Market for Women’s Eggs?by Marcy DarnovskyApril 7th, 2016A bill sponsored by the fertility industry seeks yet again to overturn existing policies that allow reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses for women who provide eggs for research, but not inducements of thousands of dollars beyond that.
Chinese Cloning Firm Pumps $15 Million into California Stem Cell Businessby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportFebruary 24th, 2016A financially strapped California stem cell company could be taken over by a Chinese enterprise that says it can clone humans, and is "only holding off for fear of the public reaction."
'We Won't Make Frankensteins,' Cloning Giant Boyalife's CEO Saysby David Lom and Eric BaculinaoNBC NewsDecember 26th, 2015The head of a Chinese firm that is building the world's biggest animal cloning factory has vowed not to use the technology on people — for now, at least.
I Considered Cloning Myself -- But I'm Having Second Thoughtsby Stephen MossThe GuardianDecember 23rd, 2015A British couple have paid $100,000 to clone their dog. But however tempting the process might be for a human egoist, it would destroy the point of life: that it ends.
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