Cloning Technique to Make Human Stem Cells
Breakthrough bypasses need to use cells from fertilized embryos
Regenerative medicine is the term used to describe therapies where stem cells are used to regenerate tissues lost to illness or injury.
One key point in the new research: Creation of the new, functioning embryonic stem cell did not involve the use of fertilized embryos, the focus of heated debate over the past decade.
Mitalipov's team says the road to success was not easy, because human egg cells seem to be more fragile than those from other species. That meant that methods had to be tested in monkeys first, in a trial-and-error fashion, before moving to human eggs.
The researchers downplayed the notion that this research might somehow lead to human cloning.
"While the method might be considered a technique for cloning stem cells, commonly called therapeutic cloning, the same method would not likely be successful in producing human clones otherwise known as reproductive cloning," OHSU said in a university press release. Attempts over many years to create monkey clones have failed, the university noted, and human cells are even more fragile and less amenable to cloning.
"Our research is directed toward generating stem cells for use in future treatments to combat disease," Mitalipov added. "While nuclear transfer breakthroughs often lead to a public discussion about the ethics of human cloning, this is not our focus, nor do we believe our findings might be used by others to advance the possibility of human reproductive cloning."
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Cibelli said he believes the new achievement might encourage someone to attempt human cloning, "though that remains a distant and disturbing prospect."