Researchers from USA have successfully found a cure to mitochondrial disease. By means of the controversial cloning technique, they were able to create new, healthy and flawlessly matched stem cells by using the skin of people suffering from this illness.
Dr. Robert Lanza, Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, who was not involved in the research, says “This work enables the generation of an unlimited – and mutation-free – supply of replacement cells for patients with mitochondrial disease.” Lanza further said that clinical trials are going on worldwide that are testing these transformable cells for the treatment of diabetes, and eye and heart illnesses.
The first stage to cloning involves nuclear transfer, which utilizes the cells of adults to produce a genetic duplicate of a specific species. The cloning technique has highly been discouraged by the UN ever since it has been used in the creation of Dolly, the cloned sheep.
The successful method to create human embryonic stem cells from a patient’s skin cells has been credited to Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, who first tried in 2013. The significance of the cells lies in the fact that they can easily be transformed into any type of body cell, required by an individual. Recently, in one of Mitalipov’s studies, he along with his coworkers, were able to make replacement cells for patients with mutations in mitochondrial genes, since these cells are critical in producing energy.
For the study, the nucleus of patients’ cell were detached and embedded into unfertilized human eggs in which the mitochondria was present, but the rest of the DNA was missing.
It was further showed by the researchers, that healthy embryo-like stem cells could be formed using an alternate method which did not require the use of eggs but instead, involved reprograming adult skin cells through the usage of several genes.