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Thursday, June 21, 2007

One correction

posted by on June 21 at 14:51 PM

In my column this week, I claimed:

It is not clear that adult human cells can be reprogrammed; there is only one hint in all the scientific literature.

Uh, better make that two hints:

Previous efforts to obtain embryonic stem cells from cloned primate embryos have failed. Korean cloning scientist Woo Sook Hwang lost his job over fabricated successes using human eggs.

But Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Centre in the United States said he had succeeded using modified Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, or SCNT, in which an egg cell nucleus is removed and replaced with a donor nucleus.

The cell eventually forms an early embryo, or blastocyst, with DNA almost identical to the donor organism.

Mitalipov said he used skin cells from a 10-year-old male rhesus monkey and presented the conference with proof of his success using DNA evidence. He also showed slides of the embryonic cells changing into heart cells and neurons.

While it’s wise to wait for a peer reviewed scientific paper, if this holds up it is an exciting development indeed. Congratulations (in advance) to Dr. Mitalipov.

RSS icon Comments


You would be wrong.

siRNA, miRNA, and various other RNA snippets are constantly modifying your cells all the time.

try to keep up ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 21, 2007 3:22 PM

Oh, and the YIELDS of these modified stem cells (made from skin cells) is something like 4 to 5 from 1,000,000 cells.

Low yields like that won't do for actual scientific research.

Tell Bush to sod off.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 21, 2007 3:24 PM

Unfortunately Mitalipov's approach sounds like it would be even more controversial than traditional embryonic stem cell research. Yes, with the new technique you're starting from an adult cell - but then you end up effectively cloning the adult, growing the clone to the embryo stage, and *then* harvesting the stem cells. I have a hard time imagining a process involving both cloning *and* embryos gaining any political popularity today.

Posted by arjache | June 21, 2007 5:12 PM

arjache --

I think you're totally correct about the political implications.

I find this scientifically interesting because it's only the second demonstration that adult primate cells can be turned into pluripotent (embryonic stem cell-like) cells, by any means. Without evidence like this and the cloning paper I cited in the column, I'd doubt that any bit of genetic trickery could wipe clean the genome of an adult human cell.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | June 21, 2007 5:34 PM

@3 - and what if they "accidentally" brushed some skin off you and used it to grow things?

At least with stem cells donated, you have clear consent forms.

Meanwhile our scientists keep moving out of the USA ...

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