Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers offer proof-of-concept for Altered Nuclear Transfer

17.10.2005


Scientists at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have successfully demonstrated that a theoretical--and controversial--technique for generating embryonic stem cells is indeed possible, at least in mice.

The theory, called altered nuclear transfer (ANT), proposes that researchers first create genetically altered embryos that are unable to implant in a uterus, and then extract stem cells from these embryos. Because the embryos cannot implant, they are by definition not "potential" human lives. Some suggest that this would quell the protests of critics who claim that embryonic stem cell research necessitates the destruction of human life. Scientists and ethicists have debated the merits of this approach, but so far it has not been achieved.

"The purpose of our study was to provide a scientific basis for the ethical debate," says Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch, lead author on the paper that will be published in the October 16 online edition of the journal Nature. "Our work is the first proof-of-principle study to show that altered nuclear transfer not only works but is extremely efficient."



First proposed by William Hurlbut, Stanford University professor and member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, ANT has been described as an ethical alternative to somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), also known as therapeutic cloning.

For SCNT, a donor nucleus, for example one taken from a skin cell, is implanted into a donor egg cell from which the nucleus had been removed. This egg cell is then tricked into thinking it has been fertilized. That causes it to grow into a blastocyst--a mass of about 100 cells--from which stem cells are removed. These embryonic stem cells can divide and replicate themselves indefinitely, and they can also form any type of tissue in the human body. However, to cull these stem cells, the blastocyst must be destroyed, which some critics insist is tantamount to destroying a human life.

The procedure theorized by Hurlbut is similar to SCNT, but with one crucial twist: Before the donor nucleus is transferred into the egg cell, its DNA is altered so that the resulting blastocyst has no chance of ever becoming a viable embryo. As a result, a "potential human being" is not destroyed once stem cells have been extracted.

Jaenisch--a firm supporter of all forms of human embryonic stem cell research--has shown that technical concerns about this approach can be overcome.

Jaenisch and Alexander Meissner, a graduate student in his lab, focused on a gene called Cdx2, which enables an embryo to grow a placenta. In order to create a blastocyst that cannot implant in a uterus, the researchers disabled Cdx2 in mouse cells.

They accomplished this with a technique called RNA interference, or RNAi. Here, short interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules are designed to target an individual gene and disrupt its ability to produce protein. In effect, the gene is shut off. Jaenisch and Meissner designed a particular form of siRNA that shut off this gene in the donor nucleus and then incorporated itself into all the cells comprising the blastocyst. As a result, all of the resulting mouse blastocysts were incapable of implantation.

However, once the stem cells had been extracted from the blastocysts, Cdx2 was still disabled in each of these new cells, something that needed to be repaired in order for these cells to be useful. To correct this, Meissner deleted the siRNA molecule by transferring a plasmid into each cell. (A plasmid is a unit of DNA that can replicate in a cell apart from the nucleus. Plasmids are usually found in bacteria, and they are a staple for recombinant DNA techniques.) The stem cells resulting from this procedure proved to be just as robust and versatile as stem cells procured in the more traditional fashion.

"The success of this procedure in no way precludes the need to pursue all forms of human embryonic stem cell research," says Jaenisch, who is also a professor of biology at MIT. "Human embryonic stem cells are extraordinarily complicated. If we are ever to realize their therapeutic potential, we must use all known tools and techniques in order to explore the mechanisms that give these cells such startling characteristics."

ANT, Jaenisch emphasizes, is a modification, but not an alternative, to nuclear transfer, since the approach requires additional manipulations of the donor cells. He hopes that this modification may help resolve some of the issues surrounding work with embryonic stem cells and allow federal funding.

David Cameron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>