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Stem cells from primates

Posted Sep 12 2008 1:05pm
I just put my new Oregon license plates on my car and am proud to identify myself as an oregoniutahn (probably sounds like some commercial you've seen lately). Today's Oregonian included more on its front page about Shoukhrat Mitalipov's ability to cconvert monkey skin cells into heart, nerve and other adult cells. Before this, no one had been able to get the right combination of techniques and chemicals to complete the process. The journal Nature published a study detailing the breakthrough.

According to the Oregonian, "Mitalipov and his colleagues had cloned cells scraped from a monkey's skin, transforming them into embryonic stem cells by incubating their DNA inside an egg cell. Researchers "turned the resulting line of stem cells into heart cells, nerve cells and other adult cells."

"A Russian native, Mitalipov has worked at the Hillsboro lab since 1998 with retired scientist Don Wolf and others. Despite scientists and politicians promising that sick people could be treated with cloned stem cells, many researchers thought primates' complex biology would make that technically impossible."

"Basically, the Oregon scientists figured out a better way to run an experiment that had been done many times without success. Cloning monkey stem cells involves harvesting an egg, emptying material from the egg's nucleus, then inserting DNA from an adult cell. But the tools and methods previously used damaged the cells, so they rarely grew into early stage embryos and never yielded stem cell lines."

"Genetic tests proved the resulting cells genetically identical to the adult DNA donor, not the female egg donor, right down to having Semos's (the donor monkey) male sex chromosome.

At least one major problem remains: "The technique is not terribly efficient. The Oregon crew used 304 eggs to make two stem cell lines."

Marie Godfrey, PhD
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