Scientists have made stem cells from adult donors using cloning techniques similar to those that created Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal. Their work was published this week in an online edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell.
Here’s how the cloning worked: Researchers took DNA from skin cells from two men (ages 35 and 75) and inserted it into egg cells whose own DNA had been removed. These “reconstructed eggs” were allowed to develop for several days and used to develop lines of human embryonic stem cells, or hESCs. The resulting cells were genetically identical to the men.
This is not the first time cloned human embryos have been made. Oregon Health and Science University cell biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov did something similar but with donor cells from infants.
Why developing lines of hESCs is important is that it creates the potential for medicine to move closer to taking donor cells from a patient, making stem cells and giving them back to the patient to treat various ailments, such as heart disease. The cells would bear the patient’s own DNA, so immune rejection would not be an issue as in other cell therapy techniques.
And in being able to produce hESCs from adult cells means patient-specific cell therapies would be available to older patients.
In other science news this week:
Astronomers discovered a planet they called the most Earth-like yet. Dubbed Kepler-186f (because it was found using NASA’s Kepler telescope), it orbits a red dwarf star in the constellation Cygnus, some 500 light-years from Earth. Each light-year is 6 trillion miles, so, alas, we likely won’t be visiting it in person any time soon. (Associated Press)
Here’s something you don’t see every day: Good news about diabetes. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows declines in the last 20 years in five serious diabetes-related complications: lower-limb amputation; end-stage kidney failure; heart attack; stroke; and deaths due to hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar. (The Oregonian)
Note to science fans: I hope to make these science roundups a regular occurrence, so keep an eye out for them here on OregonLive.com.