Because of recent developments in the area of cloning, Congress
is considering passing a legal ban on any cloning research. Up to
this point in time, there's been a ban in place prohibiting federally
funded researchers from pursuing human cloning. But that ban didn't
prevent privately funded companies from pursuing the idea, which
is exactly what happened. In December of 2001, Advanced Cell Technologies
published results claiming to be the first company to successfully
clone a human embryo. The company is adamant though about their
goal and distinguishing between therapeutic cloning and reproductive
ACT's goal was not to develop a human baby, but to develop stem
cells for therapeutic reasons. Here's a simplified version of therapeutic
cloning. An egg is donated by a woman and the egg's genetic material
is removed. Genetic material from another cell is inserted into
the egg. The egg is exposed to a mixture of chemicals that "activate"
the egg, and growth begins. By the fourth or fifth day of growth,
a ball of approximately 100 cells, called a blastocyst, has formed.
Inside this blastocyst is a core of cells called stem cells. These
important cells can be removed and cultured to grow into a wide
variety of different types of cells like nerve cells, cardiac cells,
or blood cells. These specialized cells can then, theoretically,
be used to treat diseases.
The goal of reproductive cloning is not to grow cells
to treat disease, but to create a human embryo that will, hopefully,
grow into a fetus. Both goals have many emotional, ethical, and
religious questions attached. As the technology races forward, the
legal system is struggling to catch up. Is there enough difference
between the two goals to allow one and not the other?
American online. This is a
good link to understand the difference between therapeutic and
reproductive cloning approaches.