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Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults

This is both scientifically exciting and morally confusing at the same time. I don’t know enough yet about the science to draw a line for myself yet.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient’s DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men.

The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved “therapeutic cloning” of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease.

But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe. In 2005, the United Nations called on countries to ban it, and the United States prohibits the use of federal funds for either reproductive or therapeutic cloning.

The new study was funded by a foundation and the South Korean government.

If confirmed by other labs, it could prove significant because many illnesses that might one day be treated with stem cells, such as heart failure and vision loss, primarily affect adults. Patient-specific stem cells would have to be created from older cells, not infant or fetal ones. That now looks possible, though far from easy: Out of 39 tries, the scientists created stem cells only once for each donor.

Outside experts had different views of the study, which was led by Young Gie Chung of the Research Institute for Stem Cell Research at CHA Health Systems in Los Angeles.

Stem cell biologist George Daley of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute called it “an incremental advance” and “not earth-shattering.”

Reproductive biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, who developed the technique the CHA team adapted, was more positive. “The advance here is showing that (nuclear transfer) looks like it will work with people of all ages,” he said in an interview.

Frankembro :slight_smile:

I saw this movie. It turned out pretty shitty for the clones.

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
This is both scientifically exciting and morally confusing at the same time. I don’t know enough yet about the science to draw a line for myself yet.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient’s DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men.

The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved “therapeutic cloning” of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease.

But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe. In 2005, the United Nations called on countries to ban it, and the United States prohibits the use of federal funds for either reproductive or therapeutic cloning.

The new study was funded by a foundation and the South Korean government.

If confirmed by other labs, it could prove significant because many illnesses that might one day be treated with stem cells, such as heart failure and vision loss, primarily affect adults. Patient-specific stem cells would have to be created from older cells, not infant or fetal ones. That now looks possible, though far from easy: Out of 39 tries, the scientists created stem cells only once for each donor.

Outside experts had different views of the study, which was led by Young Gie Chung of the Research Institute for Stem Cell Research at CHA Health Systems in Los Angeles.

Stem cell biologist George Daley of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute called it “an incremental advance” and “not earth-shattering.”

Reproductive biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, who developed the technique the CHA team adapted, was more positive. “The advance here is showing that (nuclear transfer) looks like it will work with people of all ages,” he said in an interview.

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It’s fascinating and frightening all at the same time. I share your confusion on what to think ethically. I reckon stems cells taken from an adult, where the person doesn’t really get eliminated in the process is probably ok for the most part.
Something tells me the whole ‘cloning’ part of this is sensationalism. Like the scientist in the article said it’s an incremental step.

I’m skimming the original journal article now.

It’s been a while since I was involved in any serious reading of this area of research, however there are two different basic “labels” for stem cells and assuming their meanings have not evolved as some jargon is wont to do, this represents no ethical dilemma.

In the super duper simplistic snapshot here it is-- “toti-potent” stem cells are stem cells which have the ability to form another adult human. i.e. you let them grow with the right nutrients they grow up to be adults just like regular embryos would if you gave them artificial nutrition and adequate protection. “pluri-potent” stem cells are NOT capable of becoming adult human beings–they will NEVER develop into a full human adult, however they are quite capable of becoming many different types of cell lines: types of muscle, bone, skin, etc. This means you can never clone a human from them. The confusing part is they are also called “embryonic” stem cells.

Embryonic stem cell research, boiled away from a lot of the hysteria and journalistic sensationalism from people who don’t understand science, relied a lot on totipotent stem cells for work because they were thought to be the only kind really suitable–perhaps even the only kind of SCs it was even POSSIBLE–for useful therapy. This of course is a huge ethical issue, discarding embryos, eliminating a human life etc.

We know that these totipotent cells are not the only ones suitable for research now, which I called years and years ago while the debate was raging in the media (or course feeling somewhat vindicated on this topic now :slight_smile: ). At any rate, pluripotent stem cells can never be a human adult and therefore there is no worry about aborting human life to serve research purposes.

This study describes a method of generating pluripotent stem cells via nuclear transfer from adult skin cells, which was thought to be impossible for a while, and consequently avoids most of the entire ethical debate.

I just finished a course and we talked about hESCs for a portion of it, here’s some images I cut and paste together, hope its clear enough

Here’s some terms/definitions on the types of potency
Totipotency = they have the potency to develop/differentiate into any kind of cell
Pluripotency = can differentiate into a lot of cells but not all
Multi-potency = many cells types, less than pleuripotent
Uni-potency = can only turn into one type of cell, eg myoblast into muscle

It’s super interesting stuff, but has remained relatively untapped so far because of the stigma/association with aborted fetuses.

[quote]MattyG35 wrote:

It’s super interesting stuff, but has remained relatively untapped so far because of the stigma/association with aborted fetuses.
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Yep. So much for the pro-life crowd.

Yeah, hopefully with breakthroughs like this, people start to realize that scientists have found less ethically unsettling ways of acquiring stem cells.

[quote]Bismark wrote:

[quote]MattyG35 wrote:

It’s super interesting stuff, but has remained relatively untapped so far because of the stigma/association with aborted fetuses.
[/quote]

Yep. So much for the pro-life crowd.[/quote]

?

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Bismark wrote:

[quote]MattyG35 wrote:

It’s super interesting stuff, but has remained relatively untapped so far because of the stigma/association with aborted fetuses.
[/quote]

Yep. So much for the pro-life crowd.[/quote]

?[/quote]

Ethical qualms concerning the use of aborted fetuses in the pursuit of medical advancement,