I'm still reeling from a grueling chemistry final and my mind is in a science-oriented mode. And just in time for that, today's issue of the prestigious journal Science reports that South Korean scientists have created the world's first human embryonic stem cells that are customized to injured or sick patients. This is considered a crucially important step toward growing patients' own replacement tissue to treat diseases, which is one goal of proponents of cloning research.
These are the same scientists who are headed by Dr. Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University, who created a lot of buzz for Korea's cloning industry (which they completely copied from the Japanese and the Americans!) last year when they became the first to clone a human embryo.
The clonings last year were a genetic match to a healthy woman, not a sick person. But now the Korean scientists have cloned patient-specific stem cells, which is important to prevent rejection by the body's immune system.
The "subjects" were males and females from two to fifty-six, all suffering either spinal cord injuries, diabetes or a genetic immune disease. But, they warn, therapy is still years away from being tested.
The same lab also found ways to more quickly and more safely cull stem cells with far fewer donated eggs. It only takes twenty per try.
Not that Korean women are really using their eggs that much, evidenced by Korea's all-time low fertility rate of 1.15 births per woman. Maybe the government could utilize cloning to create more babies, which could be raised by the beneficent state in special centers to turn them into productive members of society (hat tip: Aldous Huxley).
UPDATE (December 15, 2005):
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