Heart Health Articles

Deriving Stem Cells Without Killing Embryo

September 06, 2017

Scientists from Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, have succeeded in deriving stem cells from mouse embryos without killing them. This breakthrough could mean that President Bush may have another look at his veto on publicly funding embryonic stem cell research.

In 1995 the US Congress decided that its government would not fund research in which human embryos were destroyed. In 2001 George Bush said public funding would only go to research using 61 human embryonic stem lines that already existed. It limited what researchers could do as no new lines could be created.

Bush's decision was loved by pro-lifers and hated by scientists.

Before this research, growing embryonic stem cells could only be done by destroying the embryo.

Bob Lanza, team leader, used pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). They removed a blastomere, a single cell, from the cluster of 10 or so cells that made up an early embryo. They managed to grow a stem cell line from a couple of blastomeres without compromising the embryos viability - in other words, without harming the embryo.

16 embryos were used, from which the scientists developed two long-term cell lines. Lanza said they were genetically normal and could be generated into all of the cell types of the body.

Bob Lanza said "We need to jump-start the field - it's been crippled by a lack of funding. This will hopefully solve the political impasse and bring the president on board, as no embryos will be harmed with this method."

Most scientists believe that stem cell research will one day successfully treat scores illnesses, such as Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's.

Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres
Irina Klimanskaya, Young Chung, Sandy Becker, Shi-Jiang Lu and Robert Lanza
Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature05142
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