You don't need stem cells for cloning, say scientists from Pittsburgh University. In fact, they say other types of cells may be better than stem cells for cloning. The team managed to create two baby mice from a mature blood cell, disproving the previous conception that this could only be done with immature stem cells.

You can read about this study in the journal Nature Genetics.

Cloning is the creation of an embryo which is the exact genetic copy of another being, by taking a nucleus from a cell of the original being, placing it in an unfertilized egg, which has its own genetic material removed, and fertilizing it. Another name for this is SCNT (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer).

Stem cells can potentially turn into any kind of tissue cell. This means that a stem cell, with the right technology, can turn into ear cells, kidney cells, liver cells and hair cells, etc. The technology is still in its early stages. Scientists say that stem cells will eventually cure such diseases and conditions as baldness, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, parkinson's, alzheimer's and diabetes. Eventually, stem cells could provide you with the growth of natural new teeth (not implants, they would grow in your gum as they did when you were a kid/baby).

Adult stem cells taken from mature tissue to create early stage embryos have not been very successful. In this experiment, team leader, Dr. Tao Cheng and colleagues wanted to see whether a granulocyte could propagate early embryos. A granulocyte is a type of white blood cell.

Surprisingly, the scientists succeeded and found the granulocyte to be a far better candidate than immature stem cells. 35% - 39% of mature granulocytes yielded blastocysts (early stage embryos), compared to immature stem cells with a successful yield rate of 1% - 5%.

"Differentiated cells are more efficient than adult stem cells for cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer"
Li-Ying Sung, Shaorong Gao1, Hongmei Shen, Hui Yu2, Yifang Song, Sadie L Smith, Ching-Chien Chang, Kimiko Inoue, 7, Lynn Kuo, Jin Lian, Ao Li, X Cindy Tian, David P Tuck, Sherman M Weissman, Xiangzhong Yang1 & Tao Cheng
Nature Geneticdoi:10.1038/ng1895
Click here to view abstract online.

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