News of the WeekBiotechnology

Claim of Human-Cow Embryo Greeted With Skepticism

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Science  20 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5393, pp. 1390-1391
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5393.1390

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A small, privately held company announced last week that it had fused human DNA with a cow's egg to create what it called "primitive human embryonic stem cells"--"undifferentiated" cells that have the potential to grow into any cell type. The claim came just 6 days after two groups of researchers reported in Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they had cultured human embryonic stem cells (Science, 6 November, pp. 1014 and 1145). It added to the concerns already raised among ethicists and government officials; a Senate committee may review the claim at a hearing on stem cell technology planned for 1 December. But many scientists doubt that the company had succeeded in producing a viable embryonic stem cell line, and the cells themselves have long since been discarded.