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in vitro fertilisation (ivf)

Difference Between Cloning and In Vitro Fertilization

  • 4.5 (1 Votes)

IVF and cloning are two different procedures of fertilizing an egg outside the uterus. In IVF, an egg is fertilized with male sperm whereas in cloning, nucleus of an unfertilized egg is replaced with DNA of a somatic cell to produce identical organism. Cloning is mostly done for genetic study.

Human cloning and In Vitro Fertilization are two very different reproductive procedures even though some may argue that they are similar by terming them both as artificial reproduction. There may be some similarities like artificial insemination and identical lab procedures but the outcome of these procedures are completely different.

IVF or test tube baby is simply fertilizing the egg with sperm outside a woman’s body. After fertilization, the embryo is placed inside the woman’s uterus, where it continues to develop naturally. IVF babies take their characteristics from each of the parent’s DNA; therefore, the child has genetic similarities of both the parents. In Vitro Fertilization is performed in a series of procedures used to treat infertility or genetic problems and help with the conception of a child. IVF babies take traits from each of the parent’s DNA rather than just being a copy of the donor.

Cloning, on the other hand, is different and more complex than IVF. They are organisms that have exact genetic copies. Cloning is performed when the cells enter into their division phase. In cloning, the nucleus from a healthy egg is removed and replaced with the nucleus from a somatic cell, like skin cells. When the egg is fertilized, the embryo is put back into the womb where it continues to grow. They are individuals with exact genetic copies and every single molecule of their DNA is identical. This offspring is born of a single parent and only carries his or her DNA. Human cloning can also happen naturally, Monozygotic or identical twins being an example. In the case of natural cloning, an individual embryo can give rise to one or more new embryos when they fertilize so an individual woman could give rise to one or more clones.

Reproductive cloning is regarded as a deliberate production of genetically identical individuals. Each newly produced individual is an exact copy of the original. Clones contain identical sets of genetic material and chromosomes in the nucleus of every cell in the body. Therefore, cells from two clones have the same DNA and the same genes in their nuclei.

Biologically, a child from IVF is a unique human while a cloned child is genetically identical to his/her parent.

IVF today is a prevailing procedure raising few ethical problems and genetic problems, while reproductive cloning, is widely regarded as beyond the moral sphere. When a test tube baby is born, the child’s organs are most of the time healthy, but in cloning 90% of the time they fail or the uterus rejects it. Even if the cloning is successful, a large portion of the remaining 10% dies soon after delivery because of health problems. Babies born through IVF do not suffer the same health complications that cloned babies do.
There are two ways to make a genetic copy of an organism in a lab: Artificial embryo twinning and somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Artificial Embryo Twinning

Artificial embryo twinning is a relatively less efficient way to make clones. As this technique mimics the natural process that creates identical twins. Natural twins form very early in development when the embryo splits in two. Each half of the embryo continues to grow and divide, ultimately developing into separate, complete embryos. This process is artificially performed in the beginning by In Vitro Fertilization procedure. It is carried out in a contained environment in a Petri dish instead of inside the mother. At a very early stage, the embryo is separated into individual cells, which are allowed to divide and develop. After the embryos are fully developed they are then placed into a surrogate mother, where they finish developing. Since all the embryos come from the same fertilized egg, they are genetically and physically identical.

Artificially embryo twinning

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT)

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), also called nuclear transfer, is a different approach than artificial embryo twinning but produces the same result. This genetic engineering process starts with the removal of the chromosomes from a germ egg to create a host. The chromosomes are replaced with a nucleus taken from a somatic cell of the individual to be cloned. This cell could be obtained directly from the individual, from cells grown in culture, or from frozen tissue.

somatic cell nuclear transfer

How does SCNT differ from the natural way of making an embryo?

Embryos have two complete sets of chromosomes. The difference between fertilization and SCNT lies in where those two sets come from.

  • In fertilization, the sperm and egg have one set of chromosomes each. When the sperm and egg join, they grow into an embryo forming two sets of chromosomes, one from the father's sperm and one from the mother's egg.
  • In SCNT, the egg cell's single set of chromosomes is removed. The chromosomes from a somatic cell, which already contains two complete sets of chromosomes, replace it. Therefore, in the resulting embryo, both sets of chromosomes come from the same individual.

Difference between cloning and In Vitro Fertilization

  • IVF is generally performed in cases of infertility in men or women whereas cloning is done to gain information about the nucleotide sequence of the gene or to produce novel compounds.
  • In IVF treatment, the egg from the mother is obtained from the uterus and introduced with the male sperm through the process of insemination while cloning is done be by removing the egg from the mother which is fertilized by the somatic cell of the same individual.
  • IVF is an assisted reproduction procedure that raises a few ethical questions, while cloning, or ‘reproductive’ cloning, is widely regarded beyond moral value as they alter deliberately created.
  • IVF treatment has a higher chance of fertilization as it defines the natural system of reproduction. Cloning, on the other hand, may require many due to complex genetic engineering.

Almost all of the babies born through IVF treatment are healthy and do not have any deficiencies whereas in cloning, 90% of the time the original embryo is at the risk of being destroyed. Even if cloning is successful, a large portion of the remaining 10% cannot make it to become a fetus because of health problems.
Chances of dizygotic twins or fraternal twins are higher in In Vitro Fertilization procedure while cloning is particularly done to produce identical.

Clones are naturally present in the world in form of identical twins but cloning artificially raises too many questions of socio-ethical implication. Many religions and communities also oppose this reproductive cloning. IVF is a much controlled and efficient process of reproduction. It is performed only in cases of infertility therefore, it has moral acceptance. If you want to know more on IVF and surrogacy treatments, cost and fees contact Elawoman at +917899912611. Also, read the advantages and disadvantages of IVF treatments.

Dr. Arti Gupta

About The Author

Laparoscopic Surgeon, Hysteroscopic Surgeon Dr. Arti Gupta

Dr. Arti Gupta is a skilled obstetrician and gynecologist with vast years of experience. She has acquired MBBS in 1999 and MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2002. She is a member of the Haryana Medical Council and Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India. Her areas of expertise are Normal Vaginal Delivery, In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Hysteroscopy, Laparoscopy, and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. Dr. Arti Gupta has an expertise in Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and is practicing at Mayom Hospital in Gurgaon. You can get the contact details of Dr. Arti Gupta at


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1 Comment


Pulish Kodanda

Science has really advanced that you can make a clone of a person and you can make babies in the lab. I do not know what strange thing can come up in the future.

Oct. 24, 2018, 6:16 p.m. 4.5

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