Italy reports stem-cell achievement

Jun 29, 2006

Italian scientists say the stem cells they extracted from "virgin birth" embryos are capable of turning into neurons.

The University of Milan researchers said the embryos were produced by a process called parthenogenesis, which allows eggs to develop without being fertilized.

The technique might allow embryonic stem cells to be produced without having to destroy an early stage human embryo made by fertilizing eggs with sperm, the Brisbane (Australia) Herald Sun reported.

Human "parthenotes" -- embryos made by parthenogenesis -- normally never develop beyond a few days. But the Italian researchers created parthenotes that divided and formed immature embryos called blastocysts, New Scientist magazine reported. They subsequently obtained stem cells from the embryos and grew them in the laboratory, demonstrating the cells can differentiate into mature neurons.

Monash University stem-cell expert Dr. Alan Trounson told the Herald Sun: "This is the first example I have seen of this in humans, and it is potentially very exciting. It could be a source of embryonic stem cells that's not embryonic in the conventional sense."

The findings were presented last week in the Czech Republic, during the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: New research leads to FDA approval of first drug to treat radiation sickness

Related Stories

Recommended for you

School scoliosis screening has sustained effectiveness

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—School scoliosis screening can have sustained clinical effectiveness in identifying patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, according to a study published in the May 1 issue of The Sp ...

AMA: avoiding distress in medical school

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—Understanding the key drivers underlying medical students' distress can help address the issues and enhance student well-being, according to an article published by the American Medical Association.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.