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From the Skin, hESCs

Using a newly described methodology, researchers from South Korea and the US report being able to generate human embryonic stem cells from somatic cells from aged nuclear donors in Cell Stem Cell this week.

Their approach was based on a somatic cell nuclear transfer protocol used by the Oregon Health and Science University's Shoukhrat Mitalipov and his team to derive human SCNT-hESCs from infant and fetal cells. In this new study, though, researchers led by Dong Ryul Lee from the Research Institute for Stem Cell Research in California and CHA University in Seoul used dermal fibroblasts from 35- and 75-year-old males to generate hESCs.

"Thus, despite epigenetic and other age-related changes that could hinder reprogramming, middle-aged and elderly adult donors can be used to generate pluripotent stem cells using nuclear transplantation," Lee and his colleagues write.

NPR notes that the process had a low success rate; donor nuclei were transferred into 77 human egg cells leading to just two viable cells. But those cells and conceivably divide infinitely, and "so from a small vial of those cells we could grow up as many cells as we would ever want," Robert Lanza, the chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology and co-author of the paper, tells NPR.

The Scan

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