In a Science "Policy Forum" related to the team's latest findings, David Magnus and Mildred Cho from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA discuss international oversight and ethical issues in oocyte donation, including the need to promote realistic expectations of the outcomes of stem cell research.
The Korean researchers who performed this stem cell research improved upon their protocols that yielded the first embryonic stem cell line from a cloned human blastocyst. (Science 12 March 2004; 303: 1669-1674; published online 12 February 2004.)
In their new paper, Science author Woo Suk Hwang from Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea and colleagues replaced the nuclei from donated oocytes with nuclei from skin cells from male and female patients, ranging in age from 2 to 56, who had spinal cord injuries, juvenile diabetes and the genetic disease "congenital hypogamma-globulinemia."
From the 185 donated oocytes, endowed with the genetic material from a different person (or in one case, the same person), the researchers report development of 31 hollow balls of cells called "human nuclear-transfer blastocysts."
From the 31 nuclear-transfer blastocysts, the scientists derived 11 stem cell lines. The researchers generated these stem cell lines ten times more efficiently than in their 2004 Science study, using improved laboratory methods.
The single cell line generated in the 2004 Science paper resulted from nuclear transfer in which the oocyte and non-reproductive ("somatic") cell came from the same healthy female.
The new study produced a similar cell line from a woman who donated both the somatic cell and the oocyte; however, the donor was a spinal cord patient.
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