Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Human clone not miracle cure

28.11.2001


Cloned human embryos: did genes kick in?
© SPL


Rewiring the egg: mechanism remains murky.

From a scientific viewpoint, the cloning of human embryos may be more of a step than a leap, say sceptics. If the signals that turn adult cells into embryonic ones can be found, the creation of cloned embryos for tissue repair may become redundant.

Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) in Worcester, Massachusetts, now report that they have created cloned human embryos. They aimed to make blastocysts, hollow balls of cells from which embryonic stem cells can be isolated and used to grow immunologically matched tissues to replace diseased ones.



Other researchers question whether ACT’s short-lived embryos, which did not become blastocysts, are a success. "A critical stage of development is the kicking in of genes," explains Harry Griffin of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, which cloned Dolly the sheep. "They didn’t get over this threshold."

The ACT team transferred nuclei from adult skin and ovarian cells into human eggs that had been stripped of their own chromosomes. Of 19 eggs, 11 appeared to undergo early stages of embryo development by forming a ’pronucleus’, a structure which forms in eggs fertilised with sperm. Two went on to divide into 4 cells and one into 6 cells1.

Embryonic genes in the nucleus only get switched on at, or after, this stage, explains embryologist Richard Gardner of the University of Oxford, UK. Before this, embryos are instructed by molecules in the mother’s egg cell. It is unclear whether ACT’s early embryos would progress any further, says Gardner.

Damage to genes incurred during manipulation of the nucleus can halt further development, explains John Gurdon, who studies embryos at the University of Cambridge, UK. The success rate for all cloning attempts so far "is very low indeed", says Gurdon.

Many researchers are trying to uncover the underlying mechanism by which adult nuclei, which have stopped dividing, are ’reprogrammed’ - made to switch off adult genes and switch on embryonic ones. With most work being done in mice, sheep and cows, "There’s almost nothing known in humans", says Gurdon.

If such signals can be identified, they might be used directly on adult human cells, points out Griffin, to turn them into the tissue of choice. "Maybe we can miss out the first stage and reprogramme directly," he says.

This would alleviate the need for human eggs in the cloning procedure altogether. It would also avoid the risks of genetic defects in cloned tissues, which have been reported in some cloned animals.

ACT are already working on alternatives to human cloning. In the same paper they describe a technique in which they stimulated human eggs - before the stage at which they halve their number of chromosomes - to divide and form embryos without fertilization by sperm. Using a chemical that triggers ions to enter the cell, they activated 22 eggs, of which 6 went some way towards forming blastocysts.

References

  1. Cibelli, J.B. et al. Somatic cell nuclear transfer in humans: pronuclear and early embryonic development. The Journal of Regenerative Medicine, 2, 25 - 31, (2001).


HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011129/011129-9.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Method uses DNA, nanoparticles and lithography to make optically active structures

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

More genes are active in high-performance maize

19.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>