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).

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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.

SOMATIC CELL NUCLEAR TRANSFER!

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:http://wp.me/p2CnW0-vI
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