Alexis Nguyen / Staff Reporter
On May 19, 2005, British scientists from the University of Newcastle and South Korean scientists from Seoul National University discovered ways to clone stem cells using human embryos and human DNA.
Today, scientists have discovered how to use mouse stem cells and turn them into oocyte-like cells that will be able to mature and eventually be fertilized like egg cells.
In 2005, the British scientists were able to successfully clone a human embryo into stem cells to be used to treat diseases and disabilities. This was done by taking embryos from women, then replacing the genetic material with embryonic stem cell DNA.
In that same year, South Korean scientists had successfully made stem cells customized to each individual patient by replacing the DNA in the donated egg with DNA from the patient. The goal of this research was to ensure patients had a cell that was a perfect match to avoid rejection during treatment.
Stem cells are cells made up of materials from different parts of the body and can evolve into many kinds of other cells. They are produced either in animal’s or human’s bodies by multiplying into daughter cells, or in a lab. These cells are able to carry out functions of many different body parts, or the cells could be programmed to carry out a specific function in an area of the body.
Stem cells are used to treat diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. They are also used in testing of cancer fighting drugs, where the stem cells will resemble the cancer cells then test the drugs on those cells.
In 2020, scientists were able to use stem cells from a mouse to turn them into cells used for humans. The study in Japan found that activating eight genes in the mouse stem cell was enough to turn it into an oocyte-like cell, which would be able to mature and become a functioning stem cell.
“Oocytes are extremely unique because of their ability to bring forth the over two hundred kinds of highly differentiated cells needed to create an individual person, and one key to this ability is the complex mixture of substances within the fluid-like cytoplasm filling the cells,” according to the article Oh so simple: Eight genes enough to convert mouse stem cells into oocyte-like cells from Science Daily.
These oocyte-like cells have structures similar to a mature egg cells, but they have unusual chromosome structure and may not be usable. Despite that, these cells can still be used for research purposes in reproduction and treatments.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding stem cells, more specifically embryonic stem cells after it was made public that scientists were using human embryos to make stem cell treatments available. This would involve destroying the embryo for research, thus causing arguments about ethics, and questioning when the start of human life is.
“For some people, life starts when a baby is born, or when an embryo develops into a fetus. Others believe that human life begins at conception, so an embryo has the same moral status and rights as a human adult or child,” according to What are stem cells and why are they so important? written by David Railton.
As technology evolved, scientists were able to change how the embryos were used in their research, therefore the concerns towards embryonic stem cells slowly lessened. With new advances in technology for stem cells, people have changed their views on the ethical use of human embryos.
Stem cells are now being used to research stem cell therapy, cancer treatments and modify stem cells to deliver drugs directly to one place.