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A Journal on Internal Medicine and Pharmacology

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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2005 February;164(1):65-8

language: English

Remarks on therapeutic and reproductive cloning

Depalo R., Nappi L., Lorusso F., Bettocchi S., Capotorto M., Selvaggi L.

Department of General and Specialistic Surgical Sciences, Unit of Obstetrics and Gynaecology A, University of Bari, Bari, Italy


Cloning is a form of asexual reproduction giving rise to a genetically identical organism. It had been demonstrated that an animal cell that has already undergone differentiation to develop a single specialist function can be induced to revert to the multipotent stage, and that the nucleus of a terminally differentiated somatic cell can lose its genetic program and acquire a new one that is able to sustain embryonic development from the beginning to the end. In view of these advances, it is now possible to make a distinction between reproductive cloning, aiming to bring about conception of a living being, and therapeutic cloning, aiming to produce stem cells for clinical applications. Reproductive cloning consists of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) into an enucleated oocyte followed by creation of an embryo that is transferred into a receptive uterus for the purpose of creating a pregnancy. Therapeutic cloning involves SCNT into an enucleated oocyte but is followed by development of an embryo that is never transferred, but it can develop into virtually any kind of cell. There are many different possible fields of clinical application of laboratory-grown human stem cells, but the method still has a number of problems, in particular our knowledge of the tissue growth and differentiation molecular pathways are limited. We still have a long way to go before understanding and controlling the process by which the in vitro differentiation of human embryonic cells can be transformed into various cell replacement types.

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