Impact of Cloning Organs on the Medical Field

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23/09/19 Medical Reference this

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Research Question: To what extent has and will cloning human organs lead to medical breakthroughs that saves human lives?


The rapid movement of advances in science and medicine have brought about great scientific breakthroughs which are helping people who are in need of medical assistance. Cloning dates back to more than 100 years ago but the successes have been very low in terms of organ and tissue cloning. However, stem cells are the ones that will clone the organs and tissues. This type of cloning is called therapeutic cloning.

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This subject specifically came into my mind when I was on a high school field trip. My classmates and I went to a open-heart surgery, which I was pretty unmindful of prior to the surgery. We saw a triple a triple bypass surgery, which is when a surgeon takes blood vessels from another part of the body to repair the damaged arteries. This surgery is needed when arteries become blocked, which supply oxygenated blood to the heart. This surgery took a total a four hours to complete. The main issue I saw was that his heart was in a stable shape but the arteries were done. I thought to myself what if something happens to the heart? It is not possible to take a heart from another part of your own body, so there has to be something else. This thought sparked the idea of cloning a heart.

While researching more on this topic, many questions started to run through my mind…What breakthroughs have been made today? Have there been any setbacks or failures? What are the dangers of cloning organs/tissues? This led me to the question if all the the testing done will be a part in the everyday life of cloning organs in the future. Within this essay there are going to be negatives and positives, including ethical questions. This topic is worthy of investigation because people need to know where we stand in the present and what could be the future.

Nonetheless, I am more focused on the effect this will have on human lives. I believe that the positives will outweigh the negatives of cloning organs/ tissues which is why I ultimately think there will be significant medical breakthroughs. The list of names on the organ transplant list is incredibly long and a lot of people do not get the chance to receive an organ. With cloning, the need for donors and the number of recipients on these lists will dramatically decrease (or will be severely reduced). My research question, “To what extent has and will cloning human organs lead to medical breakthroughs that save the lives of people?”, embodies all of the questions listed and brings them together in order to have an effective and productive research.

To have a logically clear research paper, I will begin with the cloning successes and cloning failures in the past. I will then write about where we our today, as well as the pros and cons of cloning, and finally end with a conclusion with my stance.

Each of the steps in my research paper are meant to play an important role in forming my final conclusion and could perhaps change my original thesis. I am mostly interested to see the transformations and changes throughout time involving cloning. The ultimate goal would be to stay unbiased towards the facts and try to see everything from different and unique perspectives. For example, the topic of abortion will be discussed a bit throughout the research. Trying to not directly form an opinion will be challenging but that is the whole point of the research. Once I finish all the research steps I will then be able to analyze all the different views and points and form a proper conclusion.

The Past of Cloning

Cloning dates back to 1885 when there was the first ever demonstration of artificial embryo twinning. [1] Although this was simply just the separation of cells in a sea urchin it was the first step to a revolutionary change. Then came along “Dolly the Sheep” in 1996. She was the first successful mammal cloned from a somatic cell. This was a huge breakthrough as it showed the world that cloning was going to be part of the future. However, it would not be until 2013 that human embryonic stem cells were created by somatic cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning). [2] In between these years, small breakthroughs were constantly being made and the discoveries were becoming limitless. However, only certain past events had a major effect on the present.

According to Britannica, cloning is “the process of generating a genetically identical copy of a cell or an organism.” There are three main kinds of cloning, embryonic, reproductive, and therapeutic cloning. Gene cloning or embryonic cloning produces copies of genes or copies of DNA segments. Reproductive cloning is the copying of an actual animal. Therapeutic cloning is the cloning of embryonic stems cells for the production or copying of tissues and organs.[3]

Therapeutic cloning is the primary focus of this paper. Shorty after the therapeutic cloning breakthrough, the following year in 2014, a team from the New York Stem Cell Foundation and South Korea, used skin cells from a woman who had diabetes and were able to demonstrate that “the resulting stem cells can be turned into insulin-producing beta cells.”[4] Instead of losing the cells, they could now be replaced. Organ and tissue transplants date back to the 1950’s. With that being said, there have been thousands of patients who haven’t been able to receive an organ, just because there aren’t enough. The demand of organs simple outweighs the supply and this is a big issue. There is also a chance the organ will be rejected. All of these past problems are actually still issues today. But with the advances in science and medicine, it won’t be long until organ donors are not required, and a heart or liver, can be cloned.



Therapeutic Cloning: The Process

The steps of using stem cells to clone human organs and tissues are a complex usage of cells and combinations which ultimately forms a copied segment. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) is what is referenced when saying “Therapeutic cloning.” The first step of SCNT is removing the nucleus of an egg cell, replacing it with material from a somatic cell (internal organs, skin, bones, blood and connective tissues),

which stimulates this cell to begin dividing.[5] An important part of this is that the egg cell is never fertilized, and the genetic makeup in the cell is very identical to the genetic material pulled out from the skin or other cell.[6] After the cells begin to divide, the stem cells are taken out about a week later, just as they can be extracted from the embryos created through in vitro fertilization.[7]

The patient’s body would be able to accept the cells after the transplantation, because of the genetic match. Since therapeutic cloning is using your own DNA, the reliance on someone else becomes much less. Eventually the stem cell research will no longer be research but an everyday technique used in a doctors office. There is no telling of how long this will take due to the fact of the failures of therapeutic cloning. There have been many animal testings but very little human testing. The process is shown through the diagram below in a simpler form that shows the donner egg nucleus and the patients cell nucleus is removed which proceeds to be put into the new embryo.

Conger, Cristen. “Could We Clone Our Organs to Be Used in a Transplant?” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 8 Mar. 2018,

Cloning Successes and Failures

When researching a subject with such specification, there are often times many success and failures involved in experimentations and testings. With cloning, there are a lot of things that can go wrong if the process is missing a step or done wrong. Scientist learn from their mistakes and advance even farther. These short setbacks and failures are what eventually allow the successes. Learning from the mistakes of the past and gaining new knowledge is an invaluable lesson.

Earlier in my paper in the section titled, “The Past of Cloning,” I mentioned cloning successes as a general statement. In order to better understand where therapeutic cloning is going today, we will specifically look at the successes and failures of this type cloning.

In 2007, researchers were successful in creating primate embryonic stem cells created by somatic cell nuclear transfer.[8] This success would eventually open the door for human therapeutic cloning. However 10 years later, in 2017, biologists had succeeded in growing human stem cells in pig embryos. This was a huge shift from “science fiction to the realm of the possible the idea of developing human organs in animals for later transplant.”[9] In the New York Times article, “New Prospects for Growing Human Replacement Organs in Animals”, biologist have made it clear that no one knows the exact chemical formula/sequence for each organ or tissue. However, with the testing on animals (yes, it is very ethically questionable, but that will be discussed later), scientists are advancing. Within this article, Dr. Nakauchi, conducts on experiment where he has disabled the master gene in rats for making a pancreas so that when mouse stem cells are injected into the early embryo of such a rat, the growing embryo has no choice but to construct its pancreas of pure mouse cells, instead of the usual mixture of rat and mouse cells.[10] According to the study, the mice with the new pancreas were able to live healthy for the next year which means they did not reject the transplant. These types of animals are best known as transgenic. Their genes are being changed by inserts of new genomes in their DNA. The most important part of of these studies are finding out what functions different genes have. Using mice is a common thing for these experiments since they are small and easy to deal with. The diagram below outlines the transgenic process used on an animal. Although this experiment was only tested on rats, it was a success and proved that the experiment could be further pursued, eventually on larger mammals like pigs, and finally with humans.

Transgenic animals:

Despite the fact that there are many successes, the failures during experimentation has been inevitable. Cloning mammals has been a very difficult process in the scientific and medical world. A very recent study in 2016, involving the use of cow genes and their embryos shows how difficult it is to succeed at therapeutic cloning. Within this study, researchers found that multiple genes whose abnormal expression could lead to the high rate of death for cloned embryos. There was a failure to implant in the uterus and develop a functioning placenta. This was not the biggest issue. After 18 days, researchers found anomalies in expressions of more than 5000 genes. This also indicated there could be potential problems in the future including hormonal signaling between the developed embryo and the pregnant cow.[11]

On a more specific side, experts are concerned about the similarities between stem cells and cancer cells in therapeutic cloning. Both cell types have the ability to grow fast and some studies show that “after 60 cycles of cell division, stem cells can accumulate mutations that could lead to cancer.”[12]When dealing with cloning tissues, it is hard to look past the effect of cancer on today’s world. Almost every single person has been touched by cancer in some way. However with cloning tissues, there may be a step around chemotherapy and the sickening medicines for cancer. In order to understand how cancer cells are formed, it is important to look into the stem cells and their maturity/ development. The human body has to make new cells due to reproduction needs, growth, and repair and renewal. The reproduction part of the cell uses asexual reproduction in one celled organisms. During growth cells divide from fertilized egg to multi-celled organism. In the repair and renewal, there is a replacement of cells from normal wear and tear or from injury. Cell division goes through a process called mitosis. In mitosis, there is prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Each of these steps included a different process of the cell dividing. Before mitosis even happens interphase is taking place which is just the production of RNA, and synthesis of proteins/enzymes. The cells grow and mature to divide again and it is a constant process. This is a very dangerous area to touch upon, especially considering that cancer is one of the top causes of death in the world today. For this reason, the research must be performed to a level of extreme certainty, until procedures can begin. According to a John Hopkins Medical study, stem cells and cancer may have a similarity into their genetic material. A big issue is that when tissue is chronically inflamed which “spurs healthy stem cells to kick into high gear to reproduce more and faster to repair damage,”[13] the chances of the cell becoming cancerous rises. Making this discovery is a huge part to the medical world. If a doctor can identify this prior to finding a cancerous tumour then treating the patient would be much easier.



Pros and Cons

As I mentioned earlier in my paper, the question of what is ethically right and wrong is a question that always appears. This will lead to the pros and cons of cloning organs and tissues.

First, I would like to discuss the main pros of therapeutic cloning. There is not an infinitive amount of organ donors available to donate whatever organ a patient needs. “There are more than 100,000 people in the United States and countless others around the world who are waiting on an organ transplant right now.”[14] So being able to produce and meet the requirements of demand would definitely be a positive. Nethertheless, it is also much more efficient when resources are needed. Believe it or not cloning organs would actually save money. In an organ transplant between humans, the cost of the surgery between two people is very expensive. If only one person needs to be operated on, there would be a save in cost. Next, there is no longer the fear of a tissue or organ rejection.[15] With regular transplants, the possibility of rejection is not 0%. This leads to the possibility of infection and disease. Since a cloned organ would be 100% your own DNA, this wouldn’t be possible.

On the other hand, the cons of cloning can be quite serious. The amount of ethical questions brought up during the research and experimentations have caused the government to put bans and watches in this field of study. This all has to do with the embryos. The argument is that embryos should be treated as full humans from the start of fertilization.[16] This also brings in the issue of abortion, which is more of a personal opinion, rather than a “right or wrong.” The argument made to that is that it is solely a research tool. But when we look into the success rate it is very low, which is a potential reason for why there needs to be more research. Another con is that the amount of eggs required is enormously high. For the past 20 years in the U.S., there has be around 400,000 eggs placed in a cold storage.[17] If that’s just over the last 20 years, imagine trying to keep up with the demand of eggs. At this point and time it would be close to impossible. The question that arises with this con is does it make it right using millions of embryos to treat a disease? It is a trade off and depending on the stance one takes with abortion, is a likely clue to how you would answer this question. Finally the testing on animals is a very big problem. Some of the tests conducted are extremely painful and require certain procedures that may harm or kill the test subject (the animals). This is again an ethical question, but just dealing with animals. Testing on animals has been going on for hundreds of years, and there are certain guidelines scientists must follow which somewhat protects the animals. But the animals don’t have a say and could die at any moment.

How close are we to seeing cloning in the future?

A common question that arises with cloning is how close are we to being able to fully clone organs. It’s in the nature of humans to want to push and keep going but it is simply too hard to tell how many exact years it will take. Recent studies that show the possibility is increasing like identifying that a protein called Meox1, which found in stem cells, is crucial for promoting muscle growth. The researchers in the discovery were from Monash University in Australia. The data was found in zebrafish, hence their biological similarities to humans. The muscular part is essential for the process of cloning since it is constantly creating more tissues in the body. According to the researchers it is one of the last steps needed through this long research. In 2016, the U.S was able to create working human heart tissue, with the help of cells from an organ. In 2017 the zebrafish discovery was made. Who knows, 2019 could be the breakthrough year.


Hypothetical Example:

Imagine that there is a middle aged woman who has been on a long day trip in the mountains and suddenly has a severe heart attack. Most of her heart is damaged and barely functioning by the time she is able to get treated. She is not on the organ donor list and needs immediate heart surgery (which has a high risk factor). Instead of having to use a donors heart, doctors could take samples of her skin cells. Within her skin lies genetic material, in which doctors can inject into new human eggs. There would not be an issue of rejection since the DNA matches the women’s DNA perfectly. Eventually the stems cells will begin to form heart muscles. Instead of performing a whole heart transplant, the new cells would be able to run throughout the heart and make it healthy again. The use of stem cells and this procedure is the overview of therapeutic cloning.


After all the research conducted while writing this paper, it is very easy to see that cloning is an imperative resource for the future of humans. The most important thing that I learned while researching this subject is that cloning is a centurial thing. Sure, every decade or so, some scientist will make a discovery that relates to the process of being successful with human organ cloning, but looking at a timeline, the real breakthroughs don’t happen every decade, they happen every 50 to 100 years. However, the trend of this data is changing. With modern day technology, advances are much quicker and more efficient. If I did my research 30 years from now, the world may be completely past just cloning organs, but trying to clone a whole human. The unique parts of cloning are the endless possibilities.

Setbacks are a part of the whole cloning process. It is almost impossible to have a 100% success rate so there has to be boundaries of what one is trying to accomplish. With that being said, cloning an organ may seem absolutely insane or impossible but scientists may be on the verge of creating a life changing breakthrough. This breakthrough could add 20 more years of life or who knows maybe even more to potential patients. I firmly believe that cloning organs will lead to medical breakthroughs that will save the lives of people. The pros as a whole outweigh the cons which is why I came to this conclusion.

Science has given the world an opportunity to make discoveries and use them just like the cloning of organs and tissues. The American government has not put a ban on seizing the research and I doubt will do so anytime soon. Anytime the world is able to make a discovery where the population benefits as a whole, is a sign of a true breakthrough.

In order for the research to be continued, there has to be more money raised, and increased awareness. The general population does not know about the detailed parts and steps of cloning an organ or tissue, which leads them to a judgment without proper reasoning. Research is without a doubt moving is the correct direction. The most crucial part to have cloning be part of the future is to provide presentations, lectures, and classes which specifically cover many of the topics in this paper. Having these options would educate the public in a smart way. People would not have to pull out their phone and search on google, “what even is cloning.” In order for cloning to be the future, these actions must be taken.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Cascalho, Marilia, and Jeffrey L. Platt. “THE FUTURE OF ORGAN REPLACEMENT—NEEDS, POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS AND OBSTACLES TO APPLICATION.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 June 2006,

This resource talks about the needs for organ replacement which will help me identify why they will be needed in the future.

  1. “Therapeutic Cloning Pros and Cons.” HRFnd, 16 Mar. 2015,

This resource lists the pros and cons of cloning which helps with knowing if the benefits outweigh the cons.

  1. “The Pros and Cons of Therapeutic Cloning.” Human Cloning,

This is another resource with the pros and cons of cloning organs (therapeutic cloning.) It provides a little different pros and cons then the other website.

  1. Jones, Judy. “Cloning May Cause Health Defects .” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 May 1999,

This is an interesting news article that I thought may be useful for the risks of cloning organs. The risks are limiting factors of scientific breakthroughs so it will be helpful to know how it limits the future.

  1. Knapton, Sarah. “Breakthrough in Human Cloning Offers New Transplant Hope.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 17 Apr. 2014,

This article deals with the actual breakthroughs of human cloning which is a big part of my main questions. I will better understand what has been successful.

  1. staff, staff “Human Cloning For Transplants.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 31 Jan. 2002,

This article goes off just a little bit from my question since it talks about actual cloning of humans. I want to use predictions in my essay of what may be possible in the future and human cloning is definitely a possibility.

  1. “Cloning Fact Sheet.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI),

This cloning fact sheet will give me the basic things I need to know about cloning organs. It provides short facts I may not have know that I can use in my essay.

  1. Connor, Steve. “Breakthrough in Human Cloning Raises Hopes for Treatment Of.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 16 May 2013,

This paper by a science correspondent about the breakthroughs with cloning organs so far. It gives me a sense of where we are right now in the world with cloning.

9.Koh, C J, and A Atala. “Therapeutic Cloning Applications for Organ Transplantation.” Transplant Immunology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2004,

This article deals with Therapeutic Cloning and how it relates to organ transplants.

10. Kerlin, Kat, et al. “News & Information.” UC Davis,\.\

This article deals with the failures of cloning.

11.The History of Cloning,

This article talks about the history of cloning and accomplishments.

14. Coghlan, Andy. “Stem Cell Timeline: The History of a Medical Sensation.” New Scientist,

15. “The Value of Therapeutic Cloning for Patients.” BIO,

This article will help me outline Therapeutic Cloning.

16. (successes and failures)

These are the successes and failures of cloning.

17.Wade, Nicholas. “New Prospects for Growing Human Replacement Organs in Animals.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2017,

This article deals with a breakthrough and success of cloning organs.

18. “Crystal Lombardo.” Vittanaorg, 20 Feb. 2018,

This article deals with the pros and cons of therapeutic cloning.

19. Lisker, R. “Ethical and Legal Issues in Therapeutic Cloning and the Study of Stem Cells.” Archives of Medical Research., U.S. National Library of Medicine,

This article deals with the ethical and legal issues of cloning organs.

20.Conger, Cristen. “Could We Clone Our Organs to Be Used in a Transplant?” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 8 Mar. 2018,

This article deals with the possibility of cloning organs.


This article specifically talks about transgenic animals which relate to the topic.

22. McMacken, Melissa. “An Unlikely Dynamic Duo.” Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?, 21 June 2017,

This website is an article that talks about a study with stem cells and their relation to cancer.

23. Nield, David. “We’re Another Step Closer to Growing Replacement Body Organs.” ScienceAlert, ScienceAlert,

This article deals with where we are today with cloning organs. It will help me provide examples.

[1] The History of Cloning,

[2] The History of Cloning,

[3] “Cloning Fact Sheet.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI),

[4] Coghlan, Andy. “Stem Cell Timeline: The History of a Medical Sensation.” New Scientist,

[5] “The Value of Therapeutic Cloning for Patients.” BIO,

[6] “The Value of Therapeutic Cloning for Patients.” BIO,

[7] “The Value of Therapeutic Cloning for Patients.” BIO,

[8] “Cloning Fact Sheet.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

[9] Wade, Nicholas. “New Prospects for Growing Human Replacement Organs in Animals.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2017,

[10] Wade, Nicholas. “New Prospects for Growing Human Replacement Organs in Animals.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2017,

[11] Kerlin, Kat, et al. “News & Information.” UC Davis,\.

[12] “Cloning Fact Sheet.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI),

[13] McMacken, Melissa. “An Unlikely Dynamic Duo.” Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?, 21 June 2017,

[14] “Crystal Lombardo.” Vittanaorg, 20 Feb. 2018,

[15] “Crystal Lombardo.” Vittanaorg, 20 Feb. 2018,

[16] Lisker, R. “Ethical and Legal Issues in Therapeutic Cloning and the Study of Stem Cells.” Archives of Medical Research., U.S. National Library of Medicine,

[17] “Crystal Lombardo.” Vittanaorg, 20 Feb. 2018,

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