Scientists from the US and South Korea have used cloning techniques to create embryonic stem cells from two adults in an experiment that could rekindle enthusiasm for “therapeutic cloning” for use in regenerative medicine.
The work, by researchers from CHA University in Seoul and Los Angeles, working with Advanced Cell Technology, a US biotechnology company, and reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is only the second successful experiment with therapeutic cloning.
The team transferred the nucleus of skin cells from male donors aged 35 and 75 to human eggs whose own DNA had been removed. Following biochemical treatment and an electric shock, embryos with each donor’s DNA started developing. The study is based on the “somatic cell nuclear transfer” technology that produced Dolly the sheep in 1996.
The first success, reported last May by Oregon Health and Science University, produced a cloned embryo from a baby’s skin cells – which is easier because infant cells have undergone fewer environmental and age-related changes that could hinder reprogramming to an embryonic state.