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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

To date, no human stem cell lines have been produced using research cloning, 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.

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, lack of progress in research cloning and progress with creating genetically specific stem cells via reprogramming methods have led many scientists to abandon the former field.




Researchers Claim Stem Cell Advanceby Monte MorinThe Los Angeles TimesMarch 27th, 2014Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University say they have successfully generated embryonic stem cells using fertilized mouse embryos, a feat that many scientists had thought was impossible.
Martha, My Dear: What De-Extinction Canít Bring Backby Elizabeth KolbertThe New YorkerMarch 12th, 2014To bring a lost animal back because people might like to see it, or because they might feel better imagining that itís not entirely gone, or just to demonstrate that it can be done is a vanity project, and nothing else.
The Commercialization of Human Eggs in Mitochondrial Replacement Researchby Donna L. DickensonThe New Bioethics, Vol. 19, No. 1There has been a renewed campaign to legalize payment for eggs in research, although the actual scientific advances are at best modest.
Stem cell scientist gets suspended prison term by Nam Hyun-wooKorea TimesFebruary 27th, 2014The South Korean Supreme Court has upheld a suspended jail term for stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk, and ruled that Seoul National Universityís dismissal of Hwang was justifiable.
The Mammoth Comethby Nathaniel RichThe New York TimesFebruary 27th, 2014Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening ó and itís going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.
Hwang's Patented Fraud and
New Questions about STAP Cells
by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 19th, 2014Hwang Woo-suk is awarded a U.S. patent based on the work for which he was disgraced almost a decade ago; an investigation is launched into some apparently similar errors in the recent STAP cell papers.
Disgraced Scientist Granted U.S. Patent for Work Found to be Fraudulentby Andrew PollackThe New York TimesFebruary 14th, 2014Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk faked evidence of having created the world's first cloned human embryos, embezzled research funds and violated bioethics rules.
CGS Summary of Public Opinion Pollsby CGS StaffFebruary 4th, 2014This page offers comparisons of survey results for three technologies: reproductive cloning, research cloning, and inheritable genetic modification.
Whistle-Blower Breaks his Silenceby David CyranoskiNatureJanuary 28th, 2014A South Korean researcher reveals the fallout he faced after his tip-offs about cloning fraudster Woo Suk Hwang.
Editorial: Donít rush to rehabilitate HwangNatureJanuary 21st, 2014Natureís profile of a former fraudsterís attempts to regain respectability should not be taken as an endorsement of the researcherís claims.
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