Stem Cell Research
New Approach Maintains Developmental Potential of Embryo
Oct 18, 2005 - 1:55:38 PM

The generation of embryonic stem cell lines using an alternative approach that does not interfere with the developmental potential of embryos is possible. The research, which appears online (ahead of print) in the journal Nature, by ACT and its collaborators, describes a method of deriving stem cells in mice using a technique of single-cell embryo biopsy similar to that used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to test for genetic defects.

“The most basic objection to embryonic stem cell research is the fact that embryos are deprived of any further potential to develop into a complete human being,” said Robert Lanza, Medical Director at ACT, and senior author of the study. “We have shown in a mouse model that you can generate embryonic stem cells using a method that does not interfere with the developmental potential of the embryo. It is important to note that this work was performed in the mouse and needs to be extended to the human species. It would be tragic not to pursue all options and methods available to us to get this technology to the bedside as soon as possible,” added Lanza.

Five embryonic stem (ES) cells and seven extraembryonic (trophoblast) stem cell lines were produced from single mouse blastomeres, which maintained normal karyotype (chromosome type) and markers of pluripotency or TS cells for up to more than 50 passages. The ES cells differentiated into derivatives of all three germ layers both in vitro and in chimeric offspring and teratomas. Single-blastomere-biopsied embryos developed to term without a reduction in their developmental capacity. These results are consistent with human data, which indicate that normal and PGD-biopsied embryos develop into blastocysts with comparable efficiency.

“In the past, stem cell lines have been isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts and in a few instances, from earlier, cleavage-stage embryos” said Young Chung, Senior Scientist at ACT, and first author of the paper. “We generated five ES and seven trophoblast stem (TS) cell lines from single mouse embryo cells. The stem cells were able to generate all the cell types of body, including nerve cells, bone, and beating heart.”

“Ultimately the goal of stem cell research is to provide new treatments for what are now incurable diseases,” added Michael West, President & Chief Scientific Officer at ACT. “Therefore, it is important to emphasize that these advances do not obviate the need of medical researchers to pursue somatic cell nuclear transfer and other related technologies that have so much potential in the emerging field of regenerative medicine.”

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