Motto: Every person begins as a single cell.
It looks like we have already the biggest scientific breakthrough of 2008: Stemagen Lab, a privately held embryonic stem cell research company, created the first cloned human embryo using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) or therapeutic cloning.
The embryo clones were created from mature eggs (oocytes) donated by egg donors and intended parents undergoing egg donation cycles for reproductive purposes at the Reproductive Sciences Center in La Jolla.
The genetic material was removed from the original donated eggs and replaced by a new genetic material coming from the skin cells of a different donor.
Of the original 29 oocytes resulted 5 blastocyts ( a blastocyst is an embryo between 5 and 10 days old), with three confirmed to be clones based on DNA fingerprinting demonstrating the presence of the skin cell donor DNA in the blastocys.
DNA fingerprinting is the scientifically accepted method for determining if an embryo is a true clone.
From the blastocyst are harvested stem cells, capable of forming any of the body’s 200 cell types. During the harvesting the embryo is destroyed.
Apparently the company did not create any stem cells and all blastocysts were destroyed after a few days.
The next important step will be to generate human stem cells from cloned embryos, step that seems to be the most complicated one.
According to stem cells specialists, human embryonic stem cells have been extracted before, from unused fertility clinic embryos, but stem cells from cloned embryos are likely to be more useful because they would be genetically matched to a patient whose DNA is used in the cloning process.
The procedure could open the door to the development of patient-specific embryonic stem cells for human therapeutic use, potentially including developing treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.