Scientists Convert Human Skin Cells into Embryonic Stem Cells

For the first time, a team of scientists say they have successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, a move that could help quiet the ethical debate surrounding stem cell research.

After years of failure, scientists have finally found a method to create embryonic stem cells without destroying a fertilized embryo.

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University say they were able to implant the nucleus from a skin cell into a donated human egg cell with its nucleus removed, creating an embryo-like cell that has the genetic makeup of the patient who donated the skin cell.

The embryonic stem cells created by Mitalipov can be differentiated into many types of human cell, including nerve cells, liver cells and heart cells. Scientists have suggested that stem cells may one day be used to treat brain and nerve damage and diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

Mitalipov’s method has several benefits over using standard embryonic stem cells, which are created from fertilized eggs: Because the cells contain a patient’s genetic material, the body is unlikely to reject the cells after implantation. The method also only uses a donor egg instead of a donor embryo, which some anti-abortion advocates may be more willing to tolerate ethically.[Source]

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