Human embryos successfully cloned from skin cells, cloned babies next?

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Stem cell research, whether you agree with it or not, looks to have taken another step forward recently.

A company called Stemagen out of La Jolla, California has “created the first mature cloned human embryos from single skin cells taken from adults, a significant advance toward the goal of growing personalized stem cells for patients suffering from various diseases,” reports the Washington Post.

Stemagen’s chief executive Samuel H. Wood isn’t interested in — and is, in fact, opposed to — cloning human beings. “It’s unethical and it’s illegal, and we hope no one else does it either,” says Wood, noting that his companies goal is solely to help with diseases and patient-specific medicine.

Stemagen’s process involves creating an embryonic, genetic twin of a patient and then extracting replacement tissue from the embryo’s stem cells. The transplanted tissue wouldn’t be rejected by the patient’s body because the body would genetically see the tissue as its own.

Making the cloned embryo looks to be a relatively simple process with about a 25 percent success rate.

“In the new work, the team took skin cells — some from Wood’s arm and some from an anonymous Stemagen investor — and fused them to eggs from women who were donating their eggs to help infertile women. About one-quarter of the resulting clones, or five in all, developed into five-day-old blastocysts.”

These new developments, according to the Washington Post, offer “sobering evidence that few, if any, technical barriers may remain to the creation of cloned babies.”

Mature Human Embryos Created From Adult Skin Cells [Washington Post]

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