Scientists at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory in New York have used a cloning technique to make tailor-made embryonic stem cells grow in unfertilized human egg cells, a landmark finding and potential new controversy for opponents of stem cell research.
The breakthrough, published in the journal Nature, is significant because patient-specific cells could possibly be transplanted to replace damaged cells in people with diabetes and other diseases without rejection by the immune system.
Stem cells are the body’s master cells, the source material for all other cells. Proponents of embryonic stem cells say they could transform medicine, providing treatments for blindness, juvenile diabetes or severe injuries.
The researchers were trying to prove it is possible to use a cloning technology called somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT, to make embryonic stem cells that match a patient’s DNA. This technique could ignite new controversy because some opponents consider it to be cloning.
Normally, SCNT involves removing genetic material from the nucleus of the host egg cell and replacing it with the nucleus from adult cells, the technique used to clone animals such as Dolly the sheep in 1996. But scientists so far have failed to get these cells to grow and divide beyond a very early stage in humans and non-human primates.
Scientists in this study, led by Dieter Egli and Scott Noggle at, kept the genetic material from the host egg and added the nucleus from the adult cells.
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