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expert reaction to study attempting to create human/pig chimera embryos using stem cells

Scientists publishing in Cell attempted to make interspecies chimeras – both rat/mouse chimera embryos, and human/pig chimera embryos, and reported both the successes and difficulties they faced. These techniques are of interest because they may advance understanding of the developing embryo, and may in future offer the possibility of growing human tissues in animals for transplants, although this is not yet possible.
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expert encounter with Prof Sir Ian Wilmut, creator of Dolly the sheep

Tuesday 5 July 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. Dolly was the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell and became the world’s most famous sheep. On the day before the anniversary, one of Dolly’s creators (often referred to as the father of Dolly), Prof. Sir Ian Wilmut, came to answer journalists’ questions about Dolly, her creation, his work and the legacy of that work. read more

expert reaction to two studies on stem cells and eyes

Two papers have been published in Nature examining the use of stem cells in eye research. The first reported stimulating the body’s own stem cells in the eye, in rabbits and separately in human infants, to promote regeneration of a surgically removed lens during treatment for cataracts. The second study used induced pluripotent stem cells and reported the ability to grow several types of eye tissue in a dish in a lab. read more

first UK scientist to apply for licence to use genome editing techniques on human embryos meets the media

It was reported last year that a scientist at the Francis Crick Institute had become the first UK-based researcher to apply for a license to use new genome editing techniques on human embryos. Kathy Niakan’s research seeks to understand aspects of the basic biology of early human embryo development and the role of specific genes, which has significant clinical implications for infertility, miscarriages, developmental disorders and therapeutic application of stem cells. As Kathy explained to the Guardian and Independent last October she applied to the HFEA to extend her existing license when she realised that exciting new genome editing techniques including Crispr/Cas 9 could help in her work. In advance of any decisions on the success of her application the SMC invited Kathy to talk to journalists about her research, explain how genome editing in human embryos could advance that research, and answer questions about the future direction of her work. She was accompanied by her close colleague Robin Lovell-Badge who has taken a lead in the UK and global debates on human genome editing, and was on the organising committees of both the recent Hinxton and Washington global meetings on the science and ethics of this exciting new frontier in science. read more

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