|MadSci Network: Development|
Your confusion is not too surprising. "Embryonic cloning" is sort of an umbrella term, probably coined by the media, in reference to practically any experimental use of embryonic tissue. It is also frequently pronounced by those opposed to any such experimental applications.
In actual practice, the current research studies that are typically included under this "embryonic cloning" umbrella can probably be more accurately separated into 2 broad categories of cloning, based on their differing ultimate goals: reproductive cloning and therapeutic, or regenerative, cloning. There's a FAQ from the Internat'l. Society for Stem Cell Research that more thoroughly defines these distinct goals; What is the difference between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning?
Briefly, reproductive cloning currently refers primarily to the somatic cell nuclear transfer procedure, 1st used successfully in the renown cloning of Dolly, the sheep, whereas embryonic stem cells are a major component in research aimed toward regenerative cloning, although adult stem cell sources are also being studied for that application.
It is perhaps noteworthy that the term, "embryonic cloning", combines 2 elements of contemporary experimental medicine that are often misunderstood & frequently provoke negative public reactions. There is most certainly a need to apply ethics in any biomedical research, but obscuring its curative potential with provocative terminology is a disservice to those patients who may eventually benefit therapeutically. I applaud your willingness to more clearly understand the science (courtesy of the Nat'l. Institutes of Health & the Roslin Inst.) behind the "hype",
Jeff Buzby, Ph.D.
CHOC Research Institute
MadSci Development Network
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Development.