Reproductive vs. Therapeutic Cloning: What is the difference?

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Difference between Therapeutic Cloning and Reproductive Cloning

Therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning are both types of cloning, but they may as well be entirely different processes, given the controversies surrounding them. The moral implications of cloning as a whole is beyond the scope of this article however, so we will instead focus on their respective purposes and procedures.

Therapeutic Cloning
Reproductive Cloning


Therapeutic cloning is the process of harvesting stem cells from embryos and using them for medical treatment. These cells are obtained from developing embryos, and they can be used to produce tissue, muscle, and organ cells.

Reproductive cloning on the other hand is the process of using stem cells as well, although the purpose is for the creation of another organism. In theory, the resulting organism is an exact duplicate of the organism from which the cells are obtained. Reproductive cloning may be performed on plants, animals, and humans.


In most cases, therapeutic cloning is performed for purposes of medical treatment. In such procedures, embryonic stem cells are used to create new skin for burn victims and bodily organs for patients who require organ transplants. The procedure is also used for the treatment of patients with spinal cord injuries. Cell rejection is often a non-issue with such procedures, since the cells used are obtained from the same organism. Other uses for therapeutic cloning include treatment for patients with heart disease, and Alzheimer's or Parkinson's Disease.

Reproductive cloning isn't commonly practiced today, and its legality as well as morality is often called into question. This is why most reproductive cloning procedures are currently conducted for research purposes only. Many proponents of the procedure however have proposed its potential benefits for the re-population of endangered species or to enhance the breeding of certain animals. Reproductive cloning also has potential uses in terms of reproducing animals that are of unique genetic qualities, with drug-producing animals being some of the most commonly explored avenues.


The process of therapeutic cloning is a lot like reproductive cloning, although the host organism (typically an embryo) dies after the stem cells are obtained. The procedure involves the removal of the cell nucleus, which is then implanted into a donor egg. Division of the cells comes about by way of chemical or electric treatment.

The process of reproductive cloning on the other hand relies on a procedure called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer or SCNT, in which the genetic material is removed from a donor egg, essentially rendering it "empty". The nucleus of the cell is also removed as in the case of therapeutic cloning, and transferred into an empty donor egg. Using a similar chemical or electric procedure as that used in therapeutic cloning, the egg is then subjected to division process, resulting in an embryo that is then implanted into the host organism’s uterus.

Similarities and Differences

Therapeutic cloning

  • The process of harvesting stem cells from embryos and using them for medical treatment
  • Used to produce tissue, muscle, and organ cells

Reproductive cloning

  • Main purpose is for the creation of another organism
  • May be performed on plants, animals, and humans

Which form of cloning should get more funding?
  • Therapeutic Cloning
  • Reproductive Cloning

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