Adult Stem Cell Awareness

November 17, 2007

He may be on to something


In his latest piece up at National Review, Westchester Institute’s Fr. Berg heralded the recent news that monkey embryos had been successfully cloned as – in a limited sense – good news. “Embryonic” stem cells from these cloned embryos are a milestone in that no one had yet attempted succeeded cloning primates. He says, “Mitalipov’s work now raises the hope that the factors required for direct (no eggs, no embryos involved) reprogramming of primate cells will be discovered very soon, thus obviating the all moral conundrums inherent in human embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.”

As a result, he says, “Reprogramming will certainly now receive an enormous boost from Miltalipov’s work.”

It seems he’s on to something.

This week, Ian Wilmut, best known as the creator of Dolly, announced that he no longer intends to pursue therapeutic cloning of human embryos, despite having been given the green light from the British government. Instead, he’s banking on future success with direct reprogramming as the most efficient way to produce embryonic stem cells.

It’s been a bit of a shocker for some, to say the least. For Wilmut, the turn from cloning is a simple matter of strategy: “The odds are that by the time we make nuclear transfer work in humans, direct reprogramming will work too.

H/T to David!

Edited: We were right the first time, it was the cloned embryos that were produced from a skin cell (adult stem cell), and then embryonic stem cells were taken from these cloned monkey embryos, which were then destroyed.  Susan asks – doesn’t this still require an egg? It seems it does, initially – at least in this project. But what opponents of embryonic stem cell research can be “hopeful” about is that because OAR has now been shown to be possible in primates, in the future, by using ANT-OAR, ethical scientists would ensure that an actual human embryo was not produced, although genetically human and pluripotent stem cells would be sampled and used to create stem cell lines for therapeutic use. It is one step closer to the benefits of embryonic stem cells without – it appears – any of the ethical baggage – (added Nov. 20th) news of Yamanaka’s “induced pluripotent stem cells” which really do not require eggs.

This may be a good question for Dr. Dan, and who knows, if I ask him, maybe Fr. Berg can clear up any confusion for us.

Edit redux: Fr. Berg says his point is only that we can learn a lot from studying cloned monkeys – at the expense of monkey eggs, and not human eggs.



  1. […] posts some interesting news on the recently reported monkey embryonic stem cell research advances and a recent surprise by the […]

    Pingback by Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex » News on the Adult Stem Cell Front — November 17, 2007 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  2. I don’t see where Miltalipov is NOT using eggs – here’s a quote from the article mentioned on the NR article’s link:

    “Mitalipov credits their use of a machine called Oosight, which allows them to see the structures in the egg that carry DNA, thereby easing its extraction – the first step in nuclear transfer.

    Conventionally, researchers have used a dye called Hoechst and ultraviolet light to locate and remove an egg’s DNA. But Mitalipov’s group found that both the light and the dye damaged the egg. “

    Comment by Susan — November 18, 2007 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

  3. I’ll get back to this in the evening, but if I’ve understood correctly, what is being heralded is not the cloning, which clearly required eggs, but the cells that were taken from the clones – (skin cells, I think), which were not embryonic, but adult, and “reprogrammed” into a stage of plurpotency. This is the breakthrough that holds promise.

    Editing — wrong. Looking backwards, it was just a day or so later that the reprogramming news came out, even though Wilmut endorses it along with his announcement not to pursue human cloning. The jumble of important points was further jumbled by my reporting. The new of monkey cloning was just that – primates have been successfully cloned and very many eggs were used. The inefficiency of this process made direct programming a more attractive endeavor. Of course, days later, it would become even more attractive, with the news of Thomson and Yamanaka’s success.

    Comment by benotafraid — November 18, 2007 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

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