OHSU research demonstrates not all embryonic stem cells are equal; produces the world’s first primate chimeric offspring
Newly published research by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University provides significant new information about how early embryonic stem cells develop and take part in formation of the primate species. The research, which took place at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, has also resulted in the first successful birth of chimeric monkeys — monkeys developed from stem cells taken from two separate embryos. The research will be published this week in the online edition of the journal Cell and will be published in a future printed copy of the journal.
The research was conducted to gain a better understanding of the differences between natural stem cells residing in early embryos and their cultured counterparts called embryonic stem cells. This study also determined that stem cell functions and abilities are different between primates and rodents.
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Oregon Health & Science University’s unique method of transforming a person’s own skin cells into stem cells has officially been patented. The United States Patent and Trademark Office, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, issued the patent earlier this year. Securing a patent is a key step in commercializing discoveries, an important objective for OHSU. Revenue from commercialized discoveries has the potential to bring financial benefit to the university and the state of Oregon.
The procedure, developed by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D. at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, accelerated efforts to generate stem cell therapies for humans. The method involves transplanting the nucleus of the cell, which contains an individual’s DNA, to an egg cell that has had its genetic material removed. This cell then develops into stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells that can transform into various other cell types – the building blocks of an organism. For various reasons and despite numerous attempts, previous efforts by others to clone stem cells in primates had failed repeatedly.
When the breakthrough was announced in November 2007, it received worldwide media attention and was named one of TIME Magazine’s top two research achievements of the year. Many also hailed the procedure because it avoided the need for embryonic stem cells. The use of embryonic stem calls has been the subject of debate for many years.
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