Scientists are interested in making pluripotent stem cells
directly from a patient using the same technique that was used to make
Dolly. By using this approach, scientists hope to be able to study the
development or progression of the disease or illness that the patient is
suffering from. This type of cloning is called therapeutic cloning.
Therapeutic cloning uses the somatic cell nuclear transfer (or SCNT)
technique which involves taking the nucleus - which contains the
genetic material - from a body cell, such as a skin cell, and then
transferring the nucleus into an unfertilised egg that has had it's
genetic material removed. The egg will then divide in the laboratory and
after 5-7 days, embryonic stem cells can be isolated from the SCNT
embryo. These embryonic stem cells are genetically identical to the cell
from which the nucleus was originally removed.
While scientists have been able to make embryonic stem cells using
this approach in monkeys and mice, to date they have not been able to
this in man.
It has been legal for Australian researchers to attempt to make stem
cells using therapeutic cloning since 2006 but only if they comply with
very strict regulations and obtain a licence for their specific
Reproductive cloning is where the embryo created
using SCNT is transferred into a surrogate mother to achieve a
pregnancy. In Australia, and many other countries around the world, it
is specifically prohibited to attempt to create a new person through
To learn more about the Australian laws that ban reproductive cloning but allow therapeutic cloning please watch The Stem Cell Debate
in our video library.