Saturday, 17 November 2007

Cloning using skin cells rather than stem cells

reposted & edited from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7099758.stm
WASP comments are in bright green; highlights in blockquotes (yellow).

Dolly scientist abandons cloning
An egg being collected
An egg being collected
The scientist who controversially created Dolly the sheep is abandoning the cloning of human embryos in stem cell research.

Professor Ian Wilmut, of Edinburgh University, believes a rival method developed in Japan holds the key to curing serious medical conditions.

The new method creates stem cells from fragments of skin and removes the need to use human embryos.

Prof Wilmut developed a cloning technique which involved creating stem cells - which have the potential to be grown into any cell in the human body - from human embryos.

Building blocks

Embryonic or stem cells are widely regarded as the most flexible cells in the body and are seen as the body's building blocks.

Wilmut has now embraced a technique developed by Prof Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, Japan, that involves genetically modifying adult cells to make them almost as flexible as stem cells. The research has been conducted on mice.

The work is due to be published in a scientific journal on Tuesday. Prof Wilmut said his own research team held a meeting at which it was agreed the Japanese method had more potential than the use of embryonic cells.



He said:

"The work which was described from Japan of using a technique to change cells from a patient directly into stem cells without making an embryo has got so much more potential.

"Even though it's only been described for the mouse, when we were considering which option to pursue, whether to clone or whether to copy the work in Japan, we decided to copy the work in Japan."

More acceptable

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Prof Wilmut said: "Before too long we will be able to use the Yamanaka approach to achieve the same, without making embryos. In the long term, direct reprogramming will be more productive.

"I decided a few weeks ago not to pursue nuclear transfer [the method used to create Dolly the sheep]," and he admitted the new method "was easier to accept socially".

Dolly the sheep
Dolly the sheep was unveiled to the world in 1997

The eventual aim is to grow replacement tissue as body parts become worn out.

There is some way to go before Prof Yamanaka's method can be used to grow tissue for transplantation as the resulting cells are unstable and potentially cancerous.

But Professor Wilmut believes that within five years the new technique could provide a better and ethically more acceptable alternative to cloning embryos for medical research.



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent, a step closer to avoiding the difficulties of organ donation, and a step towards using cloned meat instead of animal slaughter, excellent news.

Bizzy Bee said...

Thanks, I found this very helpful.

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