Scientists might be another step closer to curing diseases through cloning.
According to the journal Nature, researchers from the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory created embryonic stem cells using new technology in which an adult cell is fused with an egg to create a stem cell that matches its donor and could be used in disease treatment.
The research is significant and promising, said Larry Goldstein, director of the University of California San Diego Stem Cell Program.
“It’s not going to lead (directly) to a therapy,” Goldstein said. “But from a longer-term perspective, it is very important.”
Nature reported a hiccup in the experiment: The number of chromosomes present in the newly created cells was 69, an abnormal number compared with the regular 46.
Still, the cells can be used “to address important questions, like asking how these cells compare to [other stem-like cells],” lead scientist Dieter Egli said. “We now have a reliable assay to build on to conduct future research.”
Egli and his team were able to make their human-cloning project as efficient as animal cloning, first achieved in 1997 with Dolly the sheep.
Efforts by researchers over the years to develop long-lasting stem cells have failed, and that makes the new cloning breakthrough an important one, say experts.