Friday, January 18, 2008

Mature Human Embryos Created From Adult Skin Cells -

Scientists at a California company reported yesterday that they had 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.

Creation of the embryos -- grown from cells taken from the company's chief executive and one of its investors -- also offered sobering evidence that few, if any, technical barriers may remain to the creation of cloned babies. That reality could prompt renewed controversy on Capitol Hill, where the debate over human cloning has died down of late.

Five of the new embryos grew in laboratory dishes to the stage that fertility doctors consider ready for transfer to a woman's womb: a degree of development that clones of adult humans have never achieved before.

No one knows whether those embryos were healthy enough to grow into babies. But the study leader, who is also the medical director of a fertility clinic, said they looked robust, even as he emphasized that he has no interest in cloning people.

"It's unethical and it's illegal, and we hope no one else does it either," said Samuel H. Wood, chief executive of Stemagen in La Jolla, whose skin cells were cloned and who led the study with Andrew J. French, the firm's chief scientific officer.

Just like in the Sci-Fi movies, we're on the verge of creating clones for spare parts.

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