U.S. researchers at Harvard University and in California said they first will create "cloned" human embryos in the lab by combining women donors' egg cells with DNA provided by other adults. The scientists will then isolate and extract stem cells from the embryos.
The stem cells are critical to research on diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders, the scientists said. Research groups, including companies such as Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, California, will try to grow replacement tissue from the stem cells for use in medical therapies.
"For this class of disorders, we really don't have a lot of other avenues available" for research, said Kevin Eggan, a cloning expert and molecular biologist at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard. He and other scientists discussed cloning plans at a science conference in Cambridge last week.
Scientists previously have extracted human stem cells from unused embryos given to research labs by fertility clinics. The new experiments would break scientific ground as the stem cells would come from laboratory-made embryos created with the same genetic identity as the DNA donors.