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Saturday 24th March 2018

New stem cell to boost research

28th June 2007

UK scientists have found a new category of stem cell which could help investigate treatments for illnesses.


Scientists from Cambridge University - according to a report in the journal Nature - conducted a study where they took out stem cells from rodent embryos at a late developmental stage. These "epiblast" cells bore a close resemblance to human stem cells. Cells taken previously had not shown such close similarities.

In independent research, a team from Oxford University made the same discovery.

Professor Roger Pederson, the Cambridge team's leader, said they constituted: "the missing link between mouse and human embryonic stem cells. On a molecular level, epiblast stem cells are more similar to human embryonic stem cells than to mouse embryonic stem cells."

Professor Pederson said he thought early studies into the use of stem cells would occur in the next five years.

Stem cells could be particularly helpful when used in research into cures for disease, as they can develop into any category of human cell. The cells could potentially be used as a replacement for cells in areas of the body harmed by illness.

This "regenerative medicine" could treat Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and a range of other conditions.

However, using human embryos for stem cell research raises many ethical questions and considerations. Religious groups have raised objections to this practice, as scientists are reliant on using leftover embryos from IVF clinics in their research.

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