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US scientists clone embryonic stem cells from reprogrammed human skin cells
For the first time, US researchers from Oregon Health & Science University have succeeded in cloning embryonic stem cells from human skin cells. The scientists around Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov published in the trade magazine "Cell". In the future, the new method could be used to obtain embryonic stem cells in a relatively simple and ethically less questionable way, the researchers hope.
The reproductive physicians at the Health & Science University in Oregon have made embryonic stem cells from the skin cells of human donors in the laboratory, which could be converted into any other cells. "A thorough study of the stem cells demonstrated their ability to transform like normal embryonic stem cells into different cell types, including nerve cells, liver cells, and heart cells," explains Dr. Mitalipov in a current press release from the Health & Science University.
New opportunities in the treatment of numerous diseases? To produce the embryonic stem cells, the scientists led by Dr. Mitalipov described the "variation of a commonly used method called somatic cell nuclear transfer (also SCNT)," the university press release said. In the process, the cell nuclei of the skin cells of human donors were transplanted into an egg cell, the genetic material of which had previously been removed. The artificial embryo or unfertilized egg cell continued to develop in the Petri dish and finally began to produce stem cells, Mitalipov and colleagues report. These could develop into any body cells and, according to the scientists, offer great potential in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, various heart diseases and spinal cord injuries.
Extracting embryonic stem cells from skin cells Although the new method is similar to previous cloning attempts, such as that of sheep Dolly, the researchers are trying to resolve any concerns in this direction. Their method, called therapeutic cloning, "would likely not be successful in producing human clones (also known as reproductive cloning)," the scientists estimate. A statement that, however, does not offer reliable security and that acts like water on the grinders of the critics. On the other hand, the advantage of the method is real that no human embryos are required for the extraction of the stem cells. "In addition, there are no concerns about graft rejection because these reprogrammed cells can be generated by the patient using nuclear genetic material," for the treatment of which they are intended, emphasized Dr. Mitalipov another advantage of the process.
Can't clone people with the process? "While there is still a lot of work to be done in developing safe and effective stem cell treatments, we believe that this is an important step forward in the development of cells for use in regenerative medicine," report the researchers led by Dr. Mitalipov. Aware of the ethical controversy surrounding stem cell research, the head of study added: "Our research serves to generate stem cells for use in the treatment and control of diseases." Human cloning "is not the focus, nor do we believe that our knowledge of others could be used to promote the possibility of human reproductive cloning, ”said Dr. (fp)
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Photo credit: Petra Dietz / pixelio.de