Skin Cells Transformed into Babies (Mice)

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Chinese researchers report that they have transformed mouse skin cells into fully grown fertile mice which are now great grandparents. Researchers have known for a couple of years that these induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are very similiar to embryonic stem cells in that they can be manipulated into becoming nearly any kind of cell or tissue. The test of true pluripotency is to see if they could be grown into adult animals.

As The Scientist reports:

"This ability to make a mouse from the cells of a Petri dish is the most stringent standard that mouse embryonic cells are held to, and iPS cells now meet that standard, which has been a lingering doubt," said stem cell biologist George Daley of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Children's Hospital Boston, who was not involved in the work. "It assures us that iPS cells can do all the things that ES cells can do."

In one study, published in Nature, researchers created 37 iPS cell lines from mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) by exposing them to the four 'Yamanaka factors'—the cocktail of transcription factors that most robustly induce pluripotency. They then subjected six of these cells lines to tetraploid complementation, a technique involving the creation of a four-cell blastocyst. These four-cell blastocysts can only contribute to extraembryonic tissues such as the placenta and thus fail to develop, but injected stem cells can develop into young if the stem cells are truly pluripotent. It's "the gold standard of pluripotency," said Fanyi Zeng of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a coauthor on the study, in a telephone press briefing.

Using this technique with their iPS cell lines, the researchers succeeded in producing 27 live mice composed entirely from iPS cells. The first generation mice are now more than 9 months old. The researchers said they have some abnormalities (not described in the paper), but declined to specify what they were in the briefing. They did say they had also produced more than 200 second generation iPS mice and 100 third generation offspring, which seem normal and healthy so far. "[This is the] first time to confirm [that] iPS cells have full potency," said study coauthor Qi Zhou of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the briefing.

Whole article on the research at The Scientist here

In my column "Do Skin Cells Have Souls?" I analyzed how iPS cell research affects the ethical debate over human embryonic stem cell research. 

Hat tip to Jonathan Moreno

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  1. Just what we need. Chinese cloning shit.

    I’ve always wondered about exactly how reliable stories coming out of China for scientific events are. I’m not doubting any, I’ve just been curious if the stories have been changed or altered given China’s history with media.

  2. If we could clone people, I would like about 1000 copies of Sasha Grey.

  3. Chinese researchers report that they have transformed mouse skin cells into fully grown fertile mice which are now great grandparents.

    Normally, mice make really poor grandparents.

  4. Now EVERY MAN can deny women their essence!

  5. AAAaand Cal wins the thread. Move along, folks.

  6. Are they running out of mice in China? This could be huge for the Chinese food industry!

  7. Now EVERY MAN can deny women their essence!

    Not a problem for most libertarians, I gather.

  8. R C Dean | July 23, 2009, 5:59pm | #
    Now EVERY MAN can deny women their essence!

    Not a problem for most libertarians, I gather.

    zing!

  9. This news is wonderful. It is especially good for libertarians, because pairing up seems to be a bottle neck in the process of making a new generation of individualists.

  10. Can clones be individualists?

  11. Can clones be individualists?

    Sure, once the original is dead. I’m sure my clone won’t mind waiting around for a few decades before he comes into his own…

  12. Well, it’s a good thing BlueBook created me, because he just suffered a fatal, internet commenting related “accident”. Quite the coincidence.

  13. What a perverse universe this is, when it is the Chinese that seem in the lead to perfect cloning. What will they do, license the technology to us so that we can catch up to their level of overcrowding? Or perhaps this is how they will populate the worlds opened by their space program after their moonshot is successful…?

    It’s all well and good to grow organisms out of skin cells, but where is the commensurate progress in decanting personalized, rejection-free, healthy organs for transplant purposes? That would be the key benefit of cloning technology IMHO.

  14. wonderful news for chines librarians.

  15. “If we could clone people, I would like about 1000 copies of Sasha Grey.”

    Good call. Though, I’d go for Bobbi Starr and Lexi Belle personally.

    That or copies of Underworld era Kate Beckinsale, Live Nude Girls/Exit to Eden era Dana Delaney, Armageddon era Liv Tyler, Smallville season 5 era Allison Mack, Smallville era Erica Durance, Buffy-era Alyson Hannigan, Party of Five-thru-Garfield era Jennifer Love Hewitt, Poison Ivy 2 era Alyssa Milano, Doom Generation-thru-Charmed era Rose McGowan, Buffy era Eliza Dushku, Shandi Finnissey, Diora Baird, Rachel Hunter, Logan’s Run/American Werewolf in London era Jenny Agutter, and Twilight Zone/Bewitched era Elizabeth Montgomery. All engineered to completely obedient and with the sex skills and drive of Sasha Grey, Bobbi Starr, and Belladonna.

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