This health video looks into the scientific limitations behind cloning.
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Jennifer Matthews: At 43, Liz Catalan knows she's running out of time to be a mom. She's been struggling with infertility since her wedding day. Liz Catalan: I was going to have 4, 5, 6 children, both my husband and I thought that, but unfortunately that did not work out that way. Jennifer Matthews: She says holidays with nieces and nephews are tough. Liz Catalan: Sometimes you know, you'll sit in the corner and you'll be thinking, you know, 'How about me? I don't have my child.' Jennifer Matthews: Fertility treatments have failed. She won't rule out adoption, but Liz still wants her own biological child, even if that means cloning. It's something that has not been done in humans, yet. Dr. Jose Cibelli: If you try hard enough, all species will be able to be cloned. Jennifer Matthews: Scientist Jose Cibelli says cloning uses the same technology for all species. Sheep, cows, pigs, even horses have been cloned. And in February of this year, scientists from South Korea cloned the first human embryo. They did not implant it in a woman, but they could have. Proof that scientifically, human cloning is possible, but based on animal research, it's a risky step. Dr. Jose Cibelli: If you want to make a cloned cow, you have to transfer about 10 recipient cows with cloned embryos in them to get one healthy animal on the ground. Jennifer Matthews: But there are problems before you even get to that point. Cibelli estimates if scientists start with 100 cow eggs, 30 will die in the petridish. Of those remaining 70, only about 15 total eggs could be transferred to 7 cows. 4 Of those 7 cows might get pregnant. Two fetuses would die early in the pregnancy. One would die just before birth. That leaves just one surviving clone. Of those few that make it, many will have under-developed lungs or immune system failure. All this has caused even the most forward-thinking scientists to question human cloning. Dr. Jose Cibelli: At the moment, it is completely unsafe and whoever wants to attempt it is a criminal and should be penalized. Jennifer Matthews: But animal cloning is progressing. At the Audubon Nature Institute, Doctor Betsy Dresser cloned these African wildcats, the first in the world. Dr. Betsy Dresser: My personal hope for cloning is that it becomes one of the tools that we can call on when we have a species that drops so low in number. Jennifer Matthews: Surgeons here are extracting eggs from a housecat. They'll remove the DNA and inject cells from a wildcat into those empty eggs, which are re-implanted into the housecat. Nine weeks later, a wildcat clone is born. As the research moves forward, the failure rate is likely to decrease. If that happens, human cloning may gain more support. Dr. Jose Cibelli: In the future, if we can guarantee that this is safe, I will have to rethink my views on it, but it will take a long, long time to make this safe. Jennifer Matthews: It's that small chance that Liz is holding onto. Liz Catalan: I will wait as long as I have to. Jennifer Matthews: And as with most scientific breakthroughs, time is often all it takes. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.
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