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Human embryonic stem cells derived by somatic nuclear transfer

Human embryonic stem cells derived by somatic nuclear transfer

In an article entitled, ‘Human embryonic stem cells derived by somatic nuclear transfer,’ published in May 13, 2013, issue of Cell (153: 1228-1238), the lead author Masahito Tachibana with twenty-two associates affiliated to six different institutes have successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells via a common laboratory method known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). SCNT involves taking donated egg cells from women and removing their genetic material. These are then fused with human cells (in this case skin cells) and the fused cell begins behaving in a similar way to an embryo by producing human stem cells. SCNT has been used to clone animals before, and is thought to have potential applications in the study and treatment of human diseases.  The researchers evaluated various activation and culture protocols that led to successful SCNT reprogramming in monkeys, and set about testing various combinations on human oocytes. They found that the optimized protocols that worked in monkeys also worked in humans. In particular, the incorporation of caffeine into the cocktails of chemicals used during host nucleus removal and donor transplantation and the use of electrical pulses to activate embryonic development in the recipient egg improved cellular reprogramming and blastocyte development, allowing human SCNT embryos to reach a stage that yielded human Embryonic Stem Cells. Once this cell division yielded approximately 150 cells, researchers were able to isolate the embryonic stem cells. They then tested these stem cells to see if their genetic material retained any traces of the genetic material from donor egg cell’s nucleus. They also tested whether or not the embryonic stem cells were able to develop into other types of cells. Finally it was revealed that the embryonic stem cells were able to develop into several different types of cells, including heart cells. They were also found to express genes similar to those expressed by embryonic stem cell lines derived following IVF procedures, which the researchers referred to as genuine embryonic stem cells. The research has major implications for the future of medical treatments, as many believe embryonic stem cells are the key to treating damaged cells lost through injury or illness.  According to various medical researchers, stem cell therapy has the potential to treat anything from heart disease and spinal cord injuries to major neurological diseases, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. [summarized by Samsad Razzaque, Research Associate at pbtlabdu,net]

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