With scientists successfully turning human skin cells into embryonic cells a type of multi-purpose cell that "could go on to differentiate into heart, nerve, muscle, bone and all the other tissue types that make up a human body" and despite stopping "well short of creating a human clone," the experiment "may revive the controversy over human cloning."
This technique can yield fresh tissue that is an exact genetic match for the patient for whom it is intended.
The scientists first removed the DNA from an unfertilized human egg, and then inserted a patient's mature skin cell containing the patient's DNA into that egg. Next, they prompted a chemical reaction, causing the cells to fuse and begin development.
That led to a blastocyst, a hollow ball of 50 to 100 cells. For a fetus to form, the blastocyst must be implanted in a womb. An inner clump of cells in the blastocyst goes on to form the embryo, while an outer layer goes on to make the placenta.
For the tissue-growing experiment, the researchers focused on the clump of cells containing embryonic stem cells.
With the help of certain "growth" chemicals, they were able to transform the stem cells into "various cell lines and tissues, including beating human heart cells," said Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a developmental biologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., and a lead author of the study.
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