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Discredited Korean embryonic stem cells' true origins revealed

A report from researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute sheds new light on a now-discredited Korean embryonic stem cell line, setting the historical record straight and also establishing a much-needed set of standards for characterizing human embryonic stem cells. The report was published online August 2 by the journal Cell Stem Cell.

In 2004, Korean investigators announced the creation of the world's first human embryonic stem cells through somatic cell nuclear transfer, entailing transfer of genetic material from a cell in the body into an egg. Now, research led by Kitai Kim, PhD, and George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, of the Children's Hospital Boston Stem Cell Program demonstrates that the Koreans unwittingly created something entirely different the world's first human embryonic stem cell to be derived by parthenogenesis, a process that creates an embryo containing genetic material only from the donor egg.

"We know now that the Koreans' first supposed nuclear transfer-derived stem cell line was actually derived from the woman's egg alone," Daley says.

The Koreans' 2004 paper, published in Science, was retracted by the journal in early 2006 amid evidence that researchers Hwang Woo-Suk et al. had falsified their data. An initial investigation of the Korean group's first embryonic stem cell line suggested it might be parthenogenetic in origin, but the analysis was inconclusive, and the cells' origin, until now, had never been fully explained in a peer-reviewed journal.

Kim, Daley and collaborators used sophisticated genetic techniques to compare mouse embryonic stem cells derived from different sources: from embryos produced by natural fertilization; from embryos produced by parthenogenesis (through artificial activation of unfertilized eggs); and from embryos created through somatic cell nuclear transfer (replacing the nucleus of an egg with the nucleus from a cell in the body). They also tes
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Contact: Bess Andrews
elizabeth.andrews@childrens.harvard.edu
617-355-6420
Children's Hospital Boston
2-Aug-2007


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