Friday, December 15, 2006

Virgin process can produce stem cells

I'm going to guess that we'll be hearing about this subject again...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mouse embryos created through a "virgin birth" process called parthenogenesis show that egg cells can be a source of valued embryonic stem cells, researchers said on Thursday.

The cells can be closely matched to the immune system of the recipient, making them a potential source for transplants, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

There are fewer obstacles to developing these stem cells than by using cloning technology, also called somatic cell nuclear transfer, researchers said.

"I think it is a much more real-world possibility than nuclear transfer," said Dr. George Daley of Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study.

If the experiment could be reproduced in humans, such cells might provide an alternative way to produce tailored tissues for transplanting, or for studying disease, Daley said in a telephone interview.

"We are aggressively trying to produce human parthenogenetic embryonic stem cells," Daley said.

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