By plucking single cells from human embryos, Robert Lanza and his colleagues have been able to generate new lines of cultured human embryonic stem (ES) cells. The advance, to be published online by Nature (Vol. 442, No. 7105, 24 August 2006) could allow scientists to pursue human ES cell studies but avoid the controversial destruction of human embryos.
Embryonic stem cells are typically grown by extracting a mass of cells from an embryo after it forms a hollow blastocyst, destroying the embryo in the process. But last year, Lanza's team showed that they could instead remove a single cell from an earlier stage mouse embryo and amplify it into a colony of ES cells in culture. This procedure is similar to that used during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to remove a single cell for preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
In the current study, human embryos were biopsied multiple times and single cells were used to generate human ES cell lines. They obtained two stable human ES cell lines that, according to their experiments, behave like conventional ES cell lines. The technique could allow ES cell lines to be grown from cells routinely removed for preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
Robert Lanza (Advanced Cell Technology, Worcester MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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