September 27, 2001
Boy's DNA implanted in rabbit eggs
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
SCIENTISTS in China have inserted a boy's DNA into empty rabbit eggs and grown hybrid embryos, it is reported today. A team at the Sun Yat-Sen University of Medical Sciences, Guangzhou, are trying to overcome a practical limitation facing scientists wishing to make transplant tissues by therapeutic cloning. Using Dolly "nuclear transfer" technology, scientists want to create early embryos. These can be dismantled to yield stem cells that can be grown into any transplant tissue. However, there is a shortage of human eggs. One alternative is to create transplant tissue using other eggs. But there was an outcry three years ago when an American company announced that it was patenting a method to fuse human cells with cow eggs. Today's issue of Nature reports that Dr Chen Xigu at Sun Yat-Sen is working along similar lines. In some of the 100 or so successful transfers to a rabbit egg stripped of chromosomes, an embryo developed to the morula stage, the compact ball of cells that forms after about three days of development. For stem cells to be isolated, the embryos must be coaxed into developing further. In Britain, the Government plans to ban the creation of hybrids.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2001.