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."
David Cameron | EurekAlert!
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