(NEW YORK) — Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center say that they have used a cloning technique to turn an ordinary human skin cell into an embryonic stem cell.
The breakthrough in stem cell research could potentially cure a wide array of diseases, according to HealthDay News. The stem cells produced in the research are genetically identical to the person from whom the original cell was taken. Once the cell is “reprogrammed” into a stem cell, it can differentiate into a number of different types of tissue.
While HealthDay News points out that the research has some concerned, researchers do not consider the ability to reprogram cells a major breakthrough in terms of actual human cloning.
The researchers managed to take the original cell’s nucleus, which contains genetic information, and implant it into an egg cell that had had its DNA removed. After the transfer, the egg develops and produces usable stem cells. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a senior scientist at the ONPRC, told HealthDay News that “stem cells derived through this technique demonstrated their ability to convert just like normal embryonic stem cells, into several different cell types.”
Most notably, this research marks a breakthrough for reproductive cloning in that it did not involve the use of fertilized embryos.
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