Thursday, August 14, 2003

China: Cloning Yields Human-Rabbit Hybrid Embryo

I know this is immature but ... eeww!

Researchers, led by a fellow at Shanghai Second Medical University, report in the latest issue of Cell Research that they have managed to fuse human skin cells to New Zealand rabbit eggs. They say they were able to get more than 100 of these hybrids.
Because human egg cells are difficult and costly to retrieve from women's ovaries -- and because human egg retrieval poses risks to the donors -- scientists have been wanting to know whether animal eggs may serve as well. A major question has been whether the remnants of mitochondrial DNA that typically remain in an animal egg would be compatible with the nuclear DNA contributed by the human cell.

The new work suggests that the answer to that question is yes, scientists said -- though with a number of caveats. Most important, researchers said, the paper stops short of proving beyond a doubt that the stem cells retrieved from the hybrid embryos are truly capable of growing for long periods of time in lab dishes, and that they can turn into every known kind of cell.