NewScientist reports that cloned embryo stem cells keep their genetic integrity.
The results of the new study – which examined gene expression patterns in the stem cells – suggest that there is no subset of genes that is universally activated or disabled in cloned stem cells as compared with their normal stem cell counterparts.
“This is the first study to try to find gene expression differences – and there were none,” says Rudolf Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, senior author on the study.
He adds that the “reassuring” findings address concerns that stem cells from cloned embryos contain unusual genetic features that could make them unsuitable for therapeutic purposes.
Stem cells are primitive, unspecialised cells which can be coaxed into becoming any cell type. Stem cell therapies might be able to replace damaged tissues, or grow new organs. Doctors hope that one day cloned embryos might offer stem cells which could be tailored to individual patients for treatment.
This is a good thing because, in the past, there have been concerns that cloning stem cells might yield stem cells with unpleasant genetic mutations, which might render them less useful in therapeutic cloning therapies.
When you’re getting to growing replacement organs for your body, you want those organs to have the exact same genetic information that your donor cells did.
Just think… how useful would replacement organs be if they gave us tumors by surprise?