"The study is proof of principle that therapeutic cloning can be used to create tissues without the threat of rejection," says Anthony Atala, M.D., director of Tissue Engineering at Children's Hospital Boston and the senior author on the paper. "While more work needs to be done, this demonstrates the potential use of this technology."
As many as 3,000 Americans die every day from diseases that may someday be treatable with tissues created through stem cells, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Somatic cell nuclear transfer ("therapeutic cloning"), which is one way to derive stem cells, shows potential in generating functional replacement cells such as insulin-producing cells associated with diabetes. It also shows promise in reconstituting more complex tissues and organs, such as blood vessels, myocardial "patches," kidneys, and even entire hearts. Additionally, it has the potential to eliminate the rejection responses associated with transplantation of "non-self" tissues, and thus the need for immunosuppressive drugs, which carry the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening complications and enormous cost to the United States health care system.
In the study, researchers obtained cow oocytes (donor eggs from cow ovaries) and removed and discarded the nuclei, which contain the cells' genetic material, leaving behind just the shell. A skin cells from the cow's ears was placed inside the egg shell and burst with electrical energy to expand the cells. That induces the one skin cell to become several cells. The resulting blastocysts (4-day old emb
Contact: Elizabeth Andrews and Mary-Ellen Bain
Children's Hospital Boston