Human Embryonic Stem Cells Found?

by J. Travis,

Biologists who ponder the remarkable process by which an embryo develops into an adult will long remember 1997. First came the cloning of Dolly the sheep. Now, investigators report they may have isolated for the first time human embryonic cells that have the potential to develop into muscle, blood, nerves, or any other tissue in the body.

“I feel fairly confident that they will be demonstrated to be totipotent,” says John D. Gearhart of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, who described the cells at last week’s International Congress of Developmental Biology in Snowbird, Utah.

With these mother cells, scientists may someday create many sorts of tissues to treat conditions such as spinal cord injuries, diabetes, leukemia, and even neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.