June 21, 2007

Primate Cloned Stem Cells? Maybe.

China Central Television (CCTV) is reporting that US researchers (Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center) in the US have produced the first embryonic stem-cell line using SCNT (cloning) from rhesus monkeys -- and that they were able to get these cells to differentiate. The researchers reported their findings at stem cell research conference in Cairns, Australia, this week. From the report, it sounds like Dr. Mitalipov has the data to prove his claim, but after the Korean human stem-cell scandal, we should all be skeptical until the peer-reviewed publication is out.

In other stem-cell news, scientists in Belgium report that they were able to create 13 "embryos" using in vitro matured oocytes and SCNT. 13 cleaved to the 2 cell stage; 10 went beyond the 2 cell stage; and two cleaved multiple times creating morulae. This is exciting news because it means that cloned human stem cells might be possible to produce using ovarian tissue rather than requiring women to go through an oocyte donation process to procure in vivo matured oocytes. The research also shows that oocytes, harvested for reproductive purposes, that fail to fertilize, also are unsuccessful candidates for SCNT.

-Andrea Kalfoglou

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