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S. Korean Scientists Clone Cells From Specific Patients

S. Korean Scientists Clone Cells From Specific Patients



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up creation of human embryonic stem cells. The cells are created not from fertilized eggs, but from cloning cells from a specific patient.

From a scientific viewpoint it's a big deal, but still getting a lot of criticism.

It could provide some major medical advances, but it is raising a lot ethical concerns as well.

The scientists grew eleven new batches of stem cells that for the first time were a genetic match for injured or sick patients.

The study validates one of the basic theories of cloning technology in stem cell research, that a piece of skin could be taken from a patient and used to grow stem cells.

What makes this research important is that the stem cells are a genetic match for a particular patient. That means they won't be rejected by the immune system.

Scientists hold out hope that someday, stem cells can be used to repair damage from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's and other diseases.

The scientists also say their method may be less controversial than other work with embryonic stem cells because, by their definition, a human embryo was never actually created.

Dr. Woo Suk Hwang/Seoul National University: "I don't think we developed any human beings during our research process."

If the research survives the ethical hoops, doctors hope they'll have a new tool in treatment of certain diseases. In fact, Korean law specifically prohibits using the newly created embryos to make a clone.

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