New York, NY, United States (4E) – Scientists have produced embryonic stem cells from a 32-year-old diabetic woman’s skin cell and turned them into beta cells, the insulin-producing cells lost in type 1 diabetes.
The feat published Monday in the journal Nature was the first cloning of a human embryo using an adult cell. Scientists from the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute (NYSCFRI) conducted the experiment that could help discover a regenerative therapy not only for Type 1 diabetes but also for other diseases and conditions, including Parkinson’s, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, and damaged bones.
The NYSCFRI scientists led by Dr. Dieter Egli used the 1996 method for cloning a sheep called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). In the procedure, they removed the nucleus of a donated human egg and replaced it with the nucleus from the diabetic woman’s skin cell. Electrical pulses and chemicals were then used to trick the cell into thinking it was fertilized, prompting it to divide and multiply. It resulted to a bundle of 60 to 200 cells, with the stem cells in the middle of the bundle.
Egli’s team’s research follows a similar experiment by another team of scientists who included Young Gie Chung at the CHA Stem Cell Institute in Seoul, South Korea.
The Korean team used skin cells from a man, 35, and another man, 75, to create stem cells from cloned embryos reaffirming that it is possible to produce patient-specific stem cells via SCNT regardless of the patient’s age. Their research was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell early this month.