Rabbit-human stem cell claims provoke controversy and doubt

Cohen, Philip
August 2003
New Scientist;8/23/2003, Vol. 179 Issue 2409, p14
Researcher Hui Zhen Sheng et al at Shanghai Second Medical University in China claims to have created human embryonic stem cells by fusing adult human cells with rabbit eggs stripped of their nuclei, a form of cloning. Sheng also claims that the resulting cells can form a variety of human tissues, including muscle and nerve cells. The goal is to create a new source of embryonic stem cells (ESC) for research and medical applications. At the moment, ESC can only be derived by destroying human embryos, which some regard as unacceptable. But most researchers think ESC's potential for treating diseases as diverse as diabetes and Alzheimer's outweighs such concerns. And generating embryos by cloning cells from a patient would allow doctors to obtain genetically identical ESC that would not trigger rejection. The attraction of interspecies cloning is that it overcomes the great shortage of human eggs.


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