Stem Cells Made Without Destroying Embryos

Blastomere biopsy may finally overcome ethical obstacles
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2008 5:43 PM CST
Robert Lanza of the Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Scientists have created new embryonic stem cells while keeping the donor embryos intact, Wired reports, a breakthrough that could finally permit long-delayed research into curing cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Researchers plucked single cells from 2-day-old human embryos, coaxed them to become ESCs, and developed them into heart tissue, neurons, cartilage, and blood cells.

The process, called blastomere biopsy, promises to be superior to November’s skin-cell watershed, which created near-equivalents of ESCs from skin cells—though they aren't as powerful and can turn cancerous. The development could finally overcome ethical objections that led President Bush to ban federal funding of ESCs in 2001, but its 80% survival rate for donor embryos may still rankle pro-life advocates.