Harvard University researchers announced an ethically charged, long-term project that could produce treatments for a variety of diseases while they are discussing about stem cell research with human embryos.
The Harvard Stem Cell Institute, joined by researchers from Columbia University, said that it would begin recruiting women in Boston to donate eggs to generate lines of embryonic stem cells, the master cells that give rise to all other tissues in the human body which would be the first reported program launched by an academic institution to use fresh eggs in somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to create stem cells according to Time magazine.
By using private donations, the Harvard institute will circumvent President Bush’s ban on use of federal funds to create new embryonic stem cell lines. Religious conservatives generally object to research that results in the destruction of human embryos.
“This research is very much in its infancy, and clinical applications could be a decade or more” away, said Dr. George Daley, associate director of the Boston Children’s Hospital stem cell program.
“We hope to move the study from patients to the petri dish,” said Dr. Douglas Melton, codirector of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, who shifted his studies to Type-1 diabetes several years ago when both of his children were diagnosed with that disease.