Human Stem Cells Created by Cloning

Breakthrough sets up showdown with induced adult lines.

It was hailed some 15 years ago as the great hope for a biomedical revolution: the use of cloning techniques to create perfectly matched tissues that would someday cure ailments ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. Since then, the approach has been enveloped in ethical debate, tainted by fraud and, in recent years, overshadowed by a competing technology. Most groups gave up long ago on the finicky core method — production of patient-specific embryonic stem cells (ESCs) from cloning. A quieter debate followed: do we still need ‘therapeutic’ cloning?

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ES from SCNT: Another Human Stem Cell Milestone

Human embryonic stem cells have been created using a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) for the first time. Interestingly, SCNT might be the oldest genetic reprogramming technology in our biological arsenal, but its use in creating human ES cells has proven elusive.

We’ll get to the news in a moment, but first some history. In 1958, John Gurdon made a frog from a tadpole.

"Congratulations, John, that’s how frogs are usually made. Big whoop."

Except that he did it by inserting the nucleus from a tadpole cell into a frog egg that had its own nucleus removed. It should have been immediately clear to everyone how cool this was, but it took 54 years for him to get the Nobel Prize, which he shared in 2012 with some other stem cell reprogramming pioneers.

Why did that work? It makes perfect sense when you think about the job of an egg. Compared to sperm cells, eggs are huge. They are Death Stars and sperm are X-wings, each looking for an exhaust port into which they can shove their half of the genetic material. The egg is stuffed full of the proteins, mRNAs and other biological machinery that it will need to hit the ground running and begin the process of development. In other words the sperm just brings genes to the party (there’s a joke in there somewhere). The egg is the pilot, engineer and tech support. (For the genetics fans out there, this is also why maternal effects exist)

In a sense, the egg is a big bag of stuff that will define what the embryo is, at least for the first several cell divisions. Somewhere in all that eggy cytoplasm is a set of factors that are primed and ready to lead the way to embryoville.

Wait … where were we again? Oh yeah: Human stem cells. 

So while SCNT technology has been around for a while (and has been used to create some very famous sheep), it never worked in humans (despite a faked claim in 2005). The process of removing and replacing the nucleus of donated human eggs was too disruptive. Until the new report in Cell last week

Using donated eggs (obtained by consenting women from certfied IVF clinics) robbed of their own nucleus, a whole skin cell was injected and given an electric shock to stimulate cell division. That that even works is amazing. But the harvested stem cells acted like normal ES cells, and appear to be just as useful. They can be used to create patient-matched cells to study specific diseases in the petri dish, or engineered into neurons and other tissues to implant into a donor’s own body. All without destroying embryos.

Of course, we can already make near-embryonic stem cells by directly reprogramming skin cells with a simple genetic cocktail. So does it make sense to seek out egg donations for a technology like this? The ethics of making an economy out of egg donation are murky. And of course, there’s the worry that instead of just being used for making stem cells, it could be used to clone an entire human. That’s completely illegal, but it’s worth considering, at least.

It’s a new step forward in our ability to understand and manipulate human biology, and the advancement of knowledge like this is always worthy of excitement. Look at what power we hold! But we are men and women, not gods … and that’s what makes this all the more remarkable.

Human Clone Embryonic Stem Cell Lines - Business Insider

Researchers announced Wednesday, May 15, in the journal Cell that they’ve been able to make stable colonies of embryonic stem cells by injecting the DNA from ‘adult’ human cells into a human egg cell emptied out of its genetic material.

"Our finding offers new ways of generating stem cells for patients with dysfunctional or damaged tissues and organs," study researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University, said in a press release. “Such stem cells can regenerate and replace those damaged cells and tissues and alleviate diseases that affect millions of people.”

This technique they used to make these stem cells is called somatic cell nuclear transfer, and is the same technique used to clone animals, like Dolly the sheep.

To put it in very simplified terms: the researchers first harvest a human egg from a woman’s ovaries and completely remove her genetic material from the egg. Then, they take a human skin cell and insert it into the egg using an inactivated virus which fuses the two cells. The embryo that grows from this would be a genetic copy of the person that donated the cell. 

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Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a technique for cloning. The nucleus is removed from a healthy egg. This egg becomes the host for a nucleus that is transplanted from another cell, such as a skin cell. The resulting embryo can be used to generate embryonic stem cells with a genetic match to the nucleus donor (therapeutic cloning), or can be implanted into a surrogate mother to create a cloned individual, such as Dolly the sheep (reproductive cloning).

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT)

A process used to produce clones. Woah.

The method is to create a genetic copy of an individual, or clone.

Firstly, to take it apart, a Somatic Cell is a cell that contains two complete sets of chromosomes. This is essentially any cell in your body that isn’t a sperm or egg. Because sperm and eggs are “two sets of a whole” they only have one complete set of chromosomes.

When we use the term Nuclear here, we’re not talking about an explosion. It’s the nucleus of a cell, which is sort of like the cells brain. It contains all the genetic information and code that cells need to make an organism, also known as good old DNA.

Transfer of course means to move from one place to another.

So how it works is you take a somatic cell from one organism, let’s say a person, and you remove its nucleus, then insert the nucleus into an egg cell from another person, but the egg cell has to have had its nucleus removed.

So you’re transferring the nucleus of a somatic cell to an egg cell, without the nucleus.


So what does it have to do with cloning?

Take Dolly the lamb for example. By the process of SCNT, an egg from an egg cell donor with a new nucleus from a somatic cell donor was then stimulating to divide, a lot! This created a little embryo which was implanted into a third surrogate mother sheep who brought this new little lamb to term. And thus Dolly was born! An exact genetic replica of the sheep who donated the somatic cell.

First patient specific Type I Diabetes Human Embryonic Stem Cells

The Finding:

Published on April 28th, 2014 in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, a team of scientists at the New York Stem Cell Foundation and Columbia University Medical Center had finally overcome the final hurdle in making personalized stem cells that can be used to develop personalized cell therapies. They had created the first diploid embyonic stem cell line that is specific to a disease. In this case, that disease is Type 1 Diabetes. Diploid means that there are two sets of chromosomes in the stem cell, the normal number in human cells. The embryonic stem cells were created from two different donors, a healthy male newborn and an adult with type 1 diabetes. Now these newly created embyonic stem cells can be differentiated into insulin-producing beta cells, the cell type lost in type 1 diabtes. 

Why is this Important:

As quoted in a pressed release, one the head researchers, Dr. Egli, stated, “”By reprograming cells to a pluripotent state and making beta cells, we are now one step close to being able to treat diabetic patients with their own insulin-producing cells.”  Patients with type 1 diabetes lack insulin-producing beta cells. Insulin is a peptide hormon that is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. It causes cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Hence, type 1 diabetes patients are insulin deficient and have high blood sugar levels. Therefore, producing insulin-producing beta cells from stem cells for transplantation holds promise as a treatment and potential cure for type 1 diabetes. Because the stem cells are made using a patient’s own skin cells, the beta cells for replacement therapy would be autologous, or from the patient, matching the patient’s DNA, avoiding the risk of the patient’s bod rejecting the transplantation.

How Did They Do It:

To put it simply, they derived these embryonic stem cells by adding the nuclei of adult of skin cells to unfertilized donor oocytes (egg cells) . This process is called somatic cell nuclear transfer.  

Future Steps & Applications:

This is the first report of the derivation of diploid pluripotent stem cells from a patient and from a human after birth. Generating patient-specific or autologous beta cells is only the first step in developing a complete cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabees. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s imune system attacks its own beta cells. Hence, more work needs to be done to coem up with strategies to protect and prevent these therapeutic beta cells from attack by the immune system.

The technique described in the report can also be translated for use in the development of personalized autologous cell therapies for many other diseases and conditions including Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, and liver diseases and for replacing or repairing damaged bones.

Click here to read about and follow Jeff Zisselman & Diana Rader Zisselman’s adventure in Vietnam as they build their Nu Skin business.

Opinions (which means I’m just going to put everything down)

SCNT (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer) 

  • Fusing stage is highly unstable
  • "Ain’t no body got time for that" You have to make 100s of attempts before success is achieve
  • Expensive: If you don’t have the dolla, you certainly can’t holla (see why above)

iPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells):

  • Identity Crisis: Cells never forget their original identity, which has lead to issues with gene expression.
  • Suicidal: Apoptosis: programmed cell death
  • Premature aging of cells
  • …and they’ve been linked to cancer in mice…NBD

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer | SCNT

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a procedure in which the nucleus of an adult or somatic cell is inserted into an enucleated egg for the creation of an embryo. In-Vivo a nucleus, which contains a persons DNA, somatic cell is removed from its vessel and the rest of the cell cultures are …

#SCNT, #SomaticCellNuclearTransfer - More Here:

dustymoonpuff said:

Continuing from the previous question: Say that Sarah/Helena lack the synthetic sequence that causes infertility, would that even be possible given the technologies of the '70s? Like that would imply that the scientists of Project Leda could pinpoint the exact gene for fertility and successfully replace it with the synthetic one? Idk. I've liked the science on the show so far but this one bit is bothering me.

So because this is science fiction, we can assume some leeway with the technology and what was available. I mean SCNT cloning didn’t come about until the 90s, but for OB these techniques would have been used in the 70s and 80s, so already we are bending the reality of the science at that time.

So another thing I’ve spent a million hours thinking about is what exactly this infertility sequence encodes. Is it for a T-cell receptor located on the uterine cells that targets degradation of the endometrium, or is it for a specific type of T-cell programmed to degrade the endometrium? The problems I run into when thinking about this arise when I consider the clone sickness, which makes me think that there’s a higher probability that the sequence encodes for a specific type of T-cell programmed to degrade the endometrium, that then ends up causing lesions in the uterus that spread to other organs. But a lot of the pathways I have outlined for myself regarding the sequence and the illness (and trust me I have actually drawn out diagrams thinking about this) almost always find some sort of roadblock I haven’t been able to find my way out of 100% when sticking with the plot. But I’m just rambling.

Back to your question, I think that we can assume that Duncan was able to create these sequences and insert them into specific locations of the genome. This would coincide with Sarah/Helena not having the sequence, because insertion techniques sometimes fail and the DNA to be inserted isn’t taken up. This could very well be what happened with Sarah/Helena.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - Ethical Issues

Someone argued with me yesterday on Facebook saying that “killing babies for research is illegal”… Well let me assure my followers… It is NOT.

So I have spent part of my morning researching MYSELF to prove to everyone that I’m actually NOT stupid and I actually DO know what I’m talking about.

From the American Medical Association:
"Following is a list of current and potential sources of stem cells:

Early embryos created by in vitro fertilization - either those which are not needed for infertility treatment (sometimes called spare embryos) or created specifically for research;
Early embryos created by somatic (body) cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), a procedure that bypasses the normal fertilization process by taking the genetic material from a cell in an adult’s body and fusing it with an empty egg cell. This is a form of therapeutic cloning, which would allow cells to be customized for each individual and thereby minimizethe chances of tissue rejection;
Germ cells or organs of an aborted fetus;
Blood cells of the umbilical cord at the time of birth;
Some adult tissues (such as bone marrow);
Mature adult tissue cells reprogrammed to behave like stem cells”.

TONS of scientists are using stem cell research for various different things. It is not illegal to abort a fetus for research. I understand that this says they sometimes come from adults, but the hardcore truth is, a majority of the time, they do not. says this: “Despite the ethical issues, embryonic stem cells show an overwhelmingly higher potential to Treat Disease. However, research should still continue with adult stem cells. It is possible that researchers will discover ways to develop adult stem cells with more success as well as find ways to improve how they function once transplanted into the human body.”

NBC and CNN BOTH reported in January of 2013 that the supreme court allowed stem cell research to continue:

The ALSA clearly states on their website:
"Human embryonic stem cells are derived from fertilized embryos less than a week old. When a sperm fertilizes an egg and creates a single cell, this cell has the potential to form a complete organism. In the first hours after fertilization, this cell divides into identical, so-called totipotent cells. After approximately four days, the cells start to specialize and form a hollow sphere of cells called a blastocyst.

The blastocyst has an outer layer of cells and a hollow inside. Within the hollow is a cluster of cells called the inner cell mass. Cells from the inner cell mass can be used to develop pluripotent stem cell lines— they can develop into any of the tissues that form the body.

Embryonic stem (ES) cells lines are pluripotent. Earlier studies focused on mouse ES cells; however recently scientists have shown that they are able to isolate and propagate human embryonic stem cells in culture.

Pluripotent stem cells undergo further specialization into multipotent stem cells that give rise to cells with a particular function. For example, multipotent stem cells in the brain give rise to different neuronal cell types and glia.

The discovery that human embryonic stem cells can be isolated and propagated in culture with the potential of developing into all tissues of the body is a major medical breakthrough. However it has raised a great deal of ethical questions.”

The ALS Consortium website says this:
“Previous research has shown that on autopsy, ALS patients are found to have increased levels of the amino acid glutamate accumulated in the brain and spinal cord. This increase is thought to be caused by a decrease in the glutamate transporter which normally “cleans up” glutamate from the cells. Human spinal cord-derived neural stem cells (HSSC) are known to express amino acid transporters and it is hoped that this action will reduce the toxicity of accumulated glutamate and benefit ALS patients. A second hypothesized benefit of HSSC is their ability to secrete neurotrophic support factors. Neurotrophic factors support the health of nerves.

These stem cells have been engineered from the spinal cord of a single fetus electively aborted after eight weeks of gestation. The tissue was obtained with the mother’s consent. The cells are transplanted into the ALS subject’s spinal cord after laminectomy, an operation that removes bone surrounding the spine. After the spinal cord is exposed, a device manufactured for this purpose will be mounted onto the subject and will hold a syringe filled with the cells. The syringe will have a needle attached and the needle will enter the spinal cord at 5-10 locations injecting the cells. The device will minimize trauma to the spinal cord caused by the needle by making the punctures precise and steady, and by injecting the material at a slow and steady speed.”

So no. Stem cell research is not illegal. Aborting babies for research is not illegal. And it is being done by MANY associations fighting disease. This includes the ALSA. I, just as much as anybody, want ALS to be cured. It is a terrible, terrible disease. I just know in my heart that somewhere out there is a better way that doesn’t involve a life for a life.