Can a genetic signature identify the origin of a human stem cell line? Scientists report that a widely available method for comprehensive genetic analysis can help distinguish the type of human embryo that stem cells come from. The research, to be published online August 2nd by the journal Cell Stem Cell, published by Cell Press, also provides an intriguing new insight into the largest scandal in the history of human stem cell research.
Different methods can be used to make embryonic stem (ES) cells. Human ES cells are typically made from embryos that are donated by couples that have undergone in vitro fertilization as a form of assisted reproduction therapy for infertility. Parthenogenetic ES (pES) cells are derived from embryos created by artificial activation of eggs in the absence of sperm. ES cells generated by somatic nuclear transfer (ntES) are derived from embryos that are created when the nucleus of an egg is replaced by the nucleus from a body cell. Creation of human ntES are pES are of particular interest to researchers as they may provide stem cells that are nearly genetically identical to the donor and, therefore, particularly well suited for customized, rejection-proof cell transplantation therapies.
To better understand the specific genetic recombination events that occur in ES cells derived by these different methods, researchers under the direction of Dr. George Q. Daley of Childrens Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute together with an international set of collaborators completed a thorough genome-wide analysis of five novel pES cells, 30 mouse ntES, as well as the SCNT-hES-1 cell line, the first human ES cell line purportedly generated by Korean scientists using human eggs and somatic cell nuclear transfer. The original paper describing the SCNT-hES-1 cell line was retracted after an investigation by the Seoul National University revealed research misconduct, but the derivation of the cell line was never fully
Contact: Erin Doonan