Human Cloning Explained

Cloning means producing a genetically identical copy of an individual.

This is how you might be cloned. Scientists would take your DNA from a skin cell, put this into a woman's egg from which the DNA has been removed. A zap of electricity would make the egg divide and after a few days you would have an embryo genetically identical to you.

There has been a lot of talk about human cloning in the press. In fact most scientists aren't interested in producing cloned humans. What they want to do is produce cloned human cells that can be used to treat diseases.

Brain_Clone_Human-Cloning-ExplainedHere's how it might work. Suppose you had a disease that was slowly destroying parts of your brain. The current treatments only reduce the symptoms whilst the disease continues to damage your brain. Cloning offers hope of a cure.

Scientists would produce a cloned embryo using DNA from your skin cells. They would then take stem cells from this embryo, grow them into brain cells in the lab, and then transplant them into your brain.

Cloning is a different way of using stem cells to treat disease. Some people prefer this way of obtaining stem cells. After all, a cloned embryo is a genetic copy of someone who is already alive and has given their consent. Surely we all have the right to decide what we do with our own DNA?

In contrast, an embryo in the freezer of a fertility clinic has been created from a unique mix of sperm and egg - a coupling that will only ever happen once, producing a totally unique set of genes that has the potential to become a unique individual.

So which is the better option?

  • What are stem cells?
  • Where do the embryos come from?
  • Other sources of human stem cells
  • Human cloning
  • Human cloning - the risks