Scientists Breed Mice From Stem Cell Alternative

Researchers turn adult, not embryonic, skin cells into stem cells
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2009 2:26 PM CDT
A worker displays white mice at an animal laboratory of a medical school in Chongqing Municipality, China.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Scientists in China have created mice using stem cells made from modified skin cells—hinting at an alternative to embryonic stem cells, the Washington Post reports. Separate teams used viruses to manipulate genes that caused mice skin cells to regress back into induced pluripotent stem cells—which, within a placenta sheathing and in the wombs of female mice, developed into baby animals.

The creation of stem cells from differentiated cells sidesteps many of the ethical issues of destroying healthy embryos to harvest stem cells, but raises the specter of “designer babies” and surreptitious cloning. “With just a little piece of your skin, or some blood from the hospital, anyone could have your child, even an ex-girlfriend or neighbor—and there’s nothing you could do about it,” says one researcher.