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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Fri, Jan. 18, 2008 -- Five human embryos were cloned using donated DNA from skin cells, a technique that may lead to treatments based on patients' own stem cells.

Researchers said the DNA came from the skin of two men, while three women donated eggs. The research, led by Andrew French, the chief science officer of the closely held biotechnology company Stemagen Corp., is detailed in a report published today by the journal Stem Cells.

Scientists at Harvard University and the University of California San Diego are also trying to inject human DNA into eggs to make embryos that would yield stem cells that could be used to develop novel therapies, a process sometimes called therapeutic cloning.

The new study is the first to show that DNA from a human skin cell can be combined with an egg to reach a stage of embryonic development, called a blastocyst, capable of producing stem cells, researchers said.

"We were able to take advantage of the best donated material from young donors and new scientific tools for growing the cells that helped us be successful," French said yesterday.

A blastocyst is a ball of about 100 cells that occurs early in embryonic development. Embryonic stem cells, which give rise to all of the body's tissues and organs, exist briefly inside the blastocyst.

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