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16 Jan 2012 0 Comments

A new source of stem cells

The top medical breakthrough of 2011, according to TIME magazine was the use of cloning techniques to produce stem cells.

As opposed to reproductive cloning, Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), sometimes known as '"therapeutic cloning," involves transferring a nucleus from a donor cell, such as a skin cell, into an unfertilized egg. The injected egg is then induced to divide. When it reaches a few hundred cells, it can be used to derive embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the original donor.

SCNT has great therapeutic promise because the resulting stem cells could be transplanted into the original donor and would be recognized as "self," thereby avoiding the problems of rejection. It will also avoid what is called immuno suppression. It means rejection of stem cells by the body’s immune system to unrelated donors.

This can be path breaking as it redefines the very norms of stem cell transplants. Although stem cell therapy is gaining momentum, finding the right donor, whose stem cells match the DNA of the patient can be an uphill task. SCNT can play a crucial role in this scenario. This means that people suffering from various diseases, not including just blood disorders, are sure to have a fresh lease of life. Diabetes, Parkinsons, Spinal cord injuries and more will find a solution in SCNT.

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