Stem Cell Advance Can Someday Lead to Personalized Treatment
Scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo. This allows the cloned adult human egg cell to self reproduce stem cells for disease research.
The study was published in the October 5 issue of Nature.
It should be noted that the embryos are not true clones. Meaning, humans cannot be cloned at the current level of the technology. This process only opened up the in-lab production of stem cells for research.
Although the method is identical to the process of cloning Dolly the sheep, this does not apply to well in human cloning. There was just too much DNA for the cloned embryo to function properly. It had enough resulting DNA material for two people.
The breakthrough is still in the rough stage. The resulting stem cells still does not match the cell donor. Scientists still have to figure out a how to remedy the problem of too much DNA in the stem cell. This situation prohibits the research going further and develop genetically-engineered tissues to treat various diseases.
There are currently no approved treatments using embryonic stem cells. The US Food & Drug Administration approved the first human trial in January 2009.
Stem cell research is not without controversy. US President George W. Bush vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act in 2006. In 2009, President Obama lifted some restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research.
Although it will be a long time until human cloning becomes viable, the direction of the research is towards finding cures for diseases. It cannot be ignored that the two goals are sharing the same path and one may lead to the other.