Cloned embryos offer possible Parkinson's cure

A team of Japanese and American scientists has used cloned embryos to produce the stem cells needed to cure symptoms of Parkinson's disease in mice. Using skin cells scraped from the tails of mice, the cells were cloned using mouse eggs, stem cells were then extracted and developed in the lab into healthy, dopamine-producing stem cells--a first--and injected into the mice, which subsequently showed marked improvement in various experiments.

Parkinson's is a disease in which the brain cells that create the neurotransmitter dopamine are killed off. The scientists believe that the animal study demonstrates that the same approach through therapeutic cloning--a procedure condemned by the Vatican--would work in humans.

"The authors were also able to test several independent embryonic stem cell lines corresponding to individual mice, and could show that most seemed to work well," said Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Medical Research Council. "This is very encouraging as it indicates that the cloning process is a sufficiently robust method of reprogramming cells back to an early embryonic state, at least when the early embryos are used to derive embryonic stem cell lines."

- read the article in the Independent

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