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Cloned embryo stem cell lines from patients

22 May 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 309

The Korean team that created the first embryonic stem cell (ES cell) line from a cloned human embryo has now announced the creation of 11 new cell lines, this time from patients affected by disease or spinal injury. Woo Suk Hwang and his colleagues at Seoul National University have increased the efficiency of their technique more than ten-fold. The research, published early online in Science last week, has been hailed as a major advance towards developing new stem cell treatments for a range of diseases.

Many scientists believe that ES cells - the body's master cells that can grow into almost any type of body tissue - hold the key to new therapies for diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease, as well as spinal cord injuries. So-called 'therapeutic cloning' research aims to derive patient-specific ES cell lines, both to study the disease process and possibly to develop tissue-matched, cell-based treatments. It involves replacing the genetic material of an unfertilised egg with that of a body cell, and then using a chemical trigger to make the resulting cell divide and multiply.)}Last year, the Korean team reported that they had created one cloned ES cell line from 30 cloned embryos, after more than 200 tries. This time, the scientists managed to create 11 cell lines from 31 cloned embryos, using just 185 eggs - an improvement which they say is partly down to using fresh eggs from young, fertile women, rather than eggs left over from fertility treatment. The women who donated their eggs for the study signed informed consent agreements, and were not paid. The team made the ES cell lines using skin cells from nine patients with spinal injuries, a two-year-old boy with a genetic immune disorder and a six-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes. However, Hwang stresses that his team are still years away from clinical trials, saying that 'we have to be over-convinced' that the cells are safe'.

Team member Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said: 'This is an enormous stride in the long journey to determine whether nuclear transfer-derived human embryonic stem cells might be eventually suitable for transplantation medicine'. The announcement will influence ongoing debates in many countries that are considering legislation in this controversial area of science. In the US, pressure is mounting on President Bush to reverse his policy on human ES cells, which bans federally funded researchers from creating new cell lines of this sort. And in Australia, there have been calls to overturn the current ban on therapeutic cloning research, enforced by a law passed in 2002.

Advance heralds 'personalised medicine'
The Guardian |  20 May 2005
Cloned human embryos deliver tailored stem cells
New Scientist |  19 May 2005
Cloning of Human Stem Cells Speeds Up
Science |  19 May 2005
Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts
Science |  19 May 2005
Stem cell breakthrough puts pressure on ban
Sydney Morning Herald |  21 May 2005
Stem cells made to order
Wired |  19 May 2005
26 October 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A South Korean court has convicted disgraced stem cell scientist, Hwang Woo-Suk, of embezzling funds and purchasing human eggs for research, after a trial lasting over three years. Hwang was given a two-year sentence suspended for three years by the Seoul Central District Court last week...
3 February 2006 - by BioNews 
South Korea's national bioethics committee has produced a report on the 'serious ethical problems' with the donated human eggs used in the recently discredited stem cell research carried out by Woo Suk Hwang and his team. Korea's National Bioethics Board (KNBB) says that the scientists, based at Seoul National University...
12 January 2006 - by BioNews 
The panel investigating the work of South Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang has reported that further research published by his team was faked. The scientists, based at Seoul National University (SNU), claimed in 2004 that they had created the world's first embryonic stem (ES) cell line from a cloned human...
7 January 2006 - by BioNews 
An investigation into the work of South Korean stem cell scientist Woo Suk Hwang and his team has concluded that they did not create any cloned embryo stem (ES) cell-lines genetically-matched to patients, as reported in their much-feted Science paper of last year. The revelations have sent shockwaves through the...
19 December 2005 - by BioNews 
The computer of Korean embryonic stem (ES) cell research scientist Woo Suk Hwang has been seized by the university he used to work for as part of an investigation into the veracity of his work, after allegations were made about falsified data in his pioneering research. The celebrated paper, published...
22 May 2005 - by BioNews 
Scientists based in Newcastle, UK, have created cloned human embryos, one of which grew in the laboratory for five days. The team is one of only two UK groups licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to carry out 'therapeutic cloning' research. The achievement, currently being considered for...
12 February 2004 - by BioNews 
Scientists in South Korea have extracted and grown stem cells from cloned, early human embryos, a breakthrough in 'therapeutic cloning' research. Using a modified version of the technique used to clone Dolly the sheep, the team, based at the Seoul National University, created 30 cloned human embryos. The researchers extracted...
19 January 2004 - by BioNews 
Scientists at the Institute for Frontier for Medical Sciences at Kyoto University in Japan have produced the country's first human embryo stem (ES) cells. Project leader Norio Nakatsuji says that his team has produced enough cells to meet current research needs in Japan, and are now awaiting government approval before...
14 August 2003 - by BioNews 
Researchers at King's College in London have succeeded in growing the UK's first human embryo stem cell-line, it was reported last week. 'We are very excited about this development' said team leader Stephen Minger, adding that human embryonic stem cells 'are capable of giving rise to all the different types...
26 November 2001 - by BioNews 
Scientists in the US announced yesterday that they had created a cloned human embryo for the first time. Their work was part of research into therapeutic cloning - creating cells or tissue for transplant from a person's own cloned embryo and subsequently lessening the risk of rejection. The research team also...
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