The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences


In the last half a century, researchers and scientists discovered the application of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to clone mammalian embryos to produce a line of pluripotent stem cells for medical and laboratory use. This is a breakthrough technology that is applied to stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and cloning. Somatic cells are non-germ cells that are differentiated but provide the nuclei that are transferred to enucleated oocytes. The replacement of the nuclei results in a developing embryo that contains the genetic information of the donated nucleus, which can either be transplanted into a surrogate mother to produce a genetically similar offspring or grow in-vitro to extract embryonic stem cells (ESC). This process has made it possible for the cloning of numerous mammalian species, such as pigs, cattle, mice, and, recently, primates. Although success has been evident in mammals, human derivation of pluripotent embryonic stem cells has been difficult to obtain. The difficulty stems from the premature activation of the oocyte and the improper reprogramming of the donated nucleus. This paper focuses on the development of human nuclear transfer embryonic stem cells (ntESC) and its application in regenerative medicine. Studies done on primates provide information on the barriers of this procedure on humans and the proper modifications on regular SCNT protocol. The use of deacetylase inhibitor TSA, phosphate inhibitor caffeine, and HVJ-E for proper membrane fusion are only some of the recent methods found for proper nuclear reprogramming and embryonic development. Breakthroughs in the methylation of DNA and histones in mice provided insight to a barrier in human embryo development. As a result, derivation of embryonic stem cells was successful and tested for pluripotency. Insulin beta cells and cardiomyocytes have been produced using this modified SCNT protocol and hold great potential for the future of science. The use of nuclear transfer embryonic stem cells is important in the development of stem cells that can differentiate into specialized cells, such as neurons, that can potentially be used to cure disease, like Parkinson’s. Even more so, these cells will retain the genome of the patient and reduce immune incompatibility. The paper goes on to discuss the ethical issues that impede researchers from advancing in this area.