Therapeutic cloning for the treatment of diabetes

Publié le : 29 April 2014

 Within one week, two laboratories announced they had acquired embryo stem cells by cloning adult stem cells collected from the patients in question. In actual fact, the New York Stem Cell Foundation is the 3rd laboratory to have obtained this result (Gènéthique press review on April 21st, 2014). 

This recent study published in the scientific journal, Nature, indicates that, for the first time, a team of scientists created embryo stem cells using adult skin cells harvested from patients with type 1 diabetes. The team, which was led by Dr. Dieter Egli, used the technique involving somatic cell nuclei transfer (SCNT), which was the method employed to clone the ewe, Dolly, in 1996.

Dr. Egli’s team “transplanted the nuclei of skin cells taken from a woman with type 1 diabetes to human oocytes in order to generate human embryo stem cells (hESC). These cells were then used to create insulin-producing beta cells. Insulin deficiency leads to type 1 diabetes – a disease that generally appears before the age of 30.” The results of this study indicate that, one day, diabetics might be able to generate their own insulin-producing cells to replace the defective cells. This technique could be used for all patients with cell defects such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  

This study required 512 oocytes collected from 35 women, who were remunerated (up to $10,000 in the City of New York). 

Going beyond the debate on remuneration for oocyte donations, these announcements “also rekindle the debate on the implications and risks associated with human cloning, focusing essentially on the fact that organisms or cells obtained from adult cells are at significant risk of deformity, accelerated ageing or premature death”. 

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