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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- In what could prove to be a medical milestone, researchers have succeeded in generating new lines of human embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryo.
"The approach described here does not involve the destruction of an embryo, nor does the biopsied cell ever develop into an embryo at any point. Therefore, we hope this method can be used to increase the number of stem cell lines available for federal funding - and thus give the field a badly needed jump-start," Lanza said. "But I guess we'll have to see what the President and Congress have to say about it all."
Lanza's new paper improves on research his team did last year. In that study, the Massachusetts group succeeded in cultivating mouse embryonic stem cell lines by removing just one cell from the mouse embryo. The procedure is similar to that used for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, used to check for genetic disorders during in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this case, the mouse embryos survived.
"We used a single-cell biopsy technique to pluck out one cell when the embryo was at the 8-to-10-cell stage," Lanza explained. This is the same stage used for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Excising a cell at this point doesn't interfere with the embryo's development, the scientist explained.