Tag Archives: “Biological Sciences”

Cloning Organs for Transplant?

Although there have been great improvements in medical technology and an obvious increase in the number of donors over the past years, the supply of organs available for transplant is far lower than what we need. An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs. More than 4,300 Canadians are currently waiting for an organ transplant.

We often hear about cloning plants and animals but have you ever imagined that you could clone your organs and store it somewhere safe in case you need a heart or liver transplant? Organ transplants itself are difficult to carry out because firstly, it is hard to find a donor, and secondly, there is no guarantee that your body will accept the new organ due to the rejection of tissues. However, if we could clone organs and produce an endless supply of transplants, people will no longer have to fear not being able get a donor.

So how does cloning organs work?

Figure. 1 Stem Cell Process

First, let’s talk about cloning itself. The most common method of cloning is somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). SCNT involves removing the nucleus from a host’s egg. With the lone nucleus and an empty egg cell, the nucleus can then be fused with the DNA from the organism that is to be cloned. The cell is then incubated; and within a few weeks, the cells will multiply and form a blastocyst (early stage embryo) with almost identical DNA to the original organism. Scientists could theoretically clone organs with SCNT through this process and extracting the stem cells from the blastocyst could produce the desired organ. Nevertheless, coaxing the framework for the stems cells to grow in will require further research.

The video below will further discuss the cloning of organs:

The most obvious benefit of cloning organs is that it is an easy replacement of internal organs and tissues for patients in need of transplants rather than having to wait for suitable organ donors and since the cloned organ contains patient’s own cells and tissue, it will lessen the chance of rejection. Conversely, the biggest issue that arises from this topic is whether it is ethical to kill an embryo in order to produce its stem cells which that can be further cultivated into an organ for transplant purposes.  According to McGill’s Journal of Medicine, a new technique device shows that the manipulation of the cells can be done without killing the embryo during the process. If that’s the case, there will be nothing morally compelled and the process of organ cloning would be ethical to carry out.

While further research and engineering still needs to be made for cloned organs to work on the human body, it is almost certain that most body parts will eventually be replaceable and we will have an unlimited supply of organs for transplant.

– Rubina Lo