Feeds

US biotech firm in new human cloning claim

Hwang on a minute...

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

An obscure California biotech company says it has cloned the first embryos from adult human DNA. It's a claim that has been made by frauds and crackpot cults in the past, but the news been greeted with a sceptical welcome by other scientists.

The new research by Stemagen appears in the second division peer-reviewed journal Stem Cells. The firm says it replaced the nuclear genetic material in unfertilised human eggs with DNA from adult skin cells.

"This is the most successful description so far of the use of the cloning techniques with purely human material," the Medical Research Council's Robin Lovell-Badge told Reuters.

Stemagen wasn't able to harvest stem cell lines from the embryos it created, which is the point of "therapeutic cloning". It says it has painstakingly verified that they are genetically identical to the two male test subjects, however.

Following the Korean stem cell fraud scandal, human cloning claims are now greeted with special caution by the scientific community. Hwang Woo-suk duped the peer review system with his fabricated results in 2005. As well as falsely claiming to have grown embryos cloned from adults, Hwang said he had isolated their stem cells.

If verified, Stemagen's work won't be the first time the cloning technique (somatic cell nuclear transfer) has been successful in humans. Other groups have implanted DNA from later stage embryos.

It would nevertheless mark a minor breakthrough. Using adult DNA holds the promise of a personal supply of genetically identical stem cells, that scientists believe could be used to treat a catalogue of illnesses.

But progress in applying cloning techniques to humans has been painfully slow. It's almost 12 years since the birth of Dolly the sheep.

George W Bush's moratorium on federal funding of new stem cell lines hasn't helped the field in the US. Part of the problem worldwide has been the low supply of human eggs for research. The UK's Human Fertility and Embryology Authority yesterday approved a brace of projects to implant adult DNA into animal eggs to help tackle the shortage.

Other research groups are focused on turning back the clock on normal adult cells. If cells can regain the potential to develop into any other cell type (pluripotency, the property that makes embryonic stem cells so powerful) there would be little need for embryos or therapeutic cloning in stem cell research. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.