STEM corner

Your monthly dose of what’s happening in the STEM field!

Sanjana Chava, Feature Editor

With advancements in cloning technology in the past few years, ethical issues surrounding the topic have created debate among the public. However, cloning has had various benefits that do not relate directly to the cloning of an entire human or animal.

Cloning has opened a new door in the field of cellular therapies and could be the cause of new beneficial treatments. Cloning cells would allow researchers the ability to replicate diseases in the lab. By having the ability to clone the disease in the lab, researchers can check the effectiveness of certain drugs. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, director of the Oregon Health & Science University Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, has even created a way to prevent women with mitochondrial diseases from passing it on to their children. By transferring the nucleus of one of her eggs into the healthy egg cell of another woman (nucleus has been removed), he can leave behind the diseased mitochondria, which prevents the child from contracting the disease. Mitalipov states that this process is possible because cloned cells have healthier mitochondria than normal natural cells.

Continuing with the theme of replication, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have replicated a human heart through the process of 3D printing. The 3D heart they created was roughly the size of a rabbit’s heart; however, this breakthrough in research could save many lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 610,000 people die every year due to heart disease, and those with the disease may require a heart transplant, which are hard to obtain. By having the ability to create human hearts on demand with a 3D printer, those with heart disease will not have to wait as long for a transplant and are more likely to survive.