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Scientists Create Stem Cells with Cloning Techniques that Match Two Adult Men

First Posted: Apr 18, 2014 02:59 PM EDT

Scientists have replicated a stem cell experiment, advancing scientific research. The experiment resulted in the creation of human embryos that were clones of two men, one 35 years of age and the other 75 years of age.

About 11 months ago, scientists in Oregon cloned human embryos capable of producing embryonic stem cells using DNA taken from infants, which was the first step in this huge advancement in stem cell research. But Robert Lanza, one of the scientists involved in the most recent discovery, did not think it would be entirely useful for medical purposes.

"There are many diseases, whether it's diabetes, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, that usually increase with age," said Lanza in this NPR article. "So ideally scientists would like to be able to extract DNA from the cells of older people - not just cells from infants - to create therapies for adult diseases."

Lanza is the chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology, and he and his colleagues, including Young Gie Ching at the CHA Stem Cell Institute in Seoul, Korea, published their findings in the journal Cell Stem Cell. First, they extracted DNA from the skin cells of the two men, and then they received human eggs donated by four women (in which the DNA was removed). They injected the skin cells into 77 of the human egg cells before they created two complete cells. These new cells contained the DNA of one or the other man.

These new pluripotent stem cells could significantly advance medical research. Previous studies have shown that pluripotent cells in mice or other lab animals could be used to treat some diseases. And now that these cells were proven to be cloned with human cells in older men, the medical world could be on its way to curing and fighting diseases in a way not yet achieved.

Now that the first embryonic stem cells were cloned from a man's skin, scientists and researchers need to find a way to make the eggs more effective in the process. Two viable cells were the result after injecting 77 eggs, which is only a 2.5% effective rate. If scientists could figure out that issue, the world of medicine and treatments would be turned upside-down.

You can read more about the first cloned human embryos in this Los Angeles Times article.

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