Still Waiting for Cybrids

Science  14 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5844, pp. 1483b
DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5844.1483b

Despite a provisional okay from British regulators, scientists who want to use animal eggs as part of a process to produce patient-specific embryonic stem (ES) cells will have to wait a bit longer for the expected green light. Two U.K. groups have applied to that country's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to try nuclear transfer techniques that would combine human cell nuclei and animal oocytes to create so-called cybrids. The technique, which U.S. and Chinese scientists have tried with limited success, might allow researchers to make patient-specific ES cells without using human oocytes, which are difficult to obtain.

After a yearlong review, HFEA said last week that it saw no fundamental reason to prohibit the technique but that it plans to make a decision in November after additional study. Stephen Minger of King's College London, who submitted his application in November 2006, says he is satisfied with the British regulatory process. “I like the fact that this [research] is tightly regulated. I think we've come out the other end with a huge amount of support” from the public.

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