Have heard from Robby George about the new stem cell “breakthrough,” and it seems the hype (surprise!) was wrong. The news stories claimed that one cell could be removed from an early-stage embryo without damaging it and that stem cells could then be derived from that extracted cell. Here’s George:
Unfortunately, just about none of this is true. First, the study did not involve the removal of one cell from an embryo that then continued to develop. Instead, researchers disaggregated 16 living embryos, killing them all, and took an average of six cells from each. The 91 resulting embryonic cells were then placed near one another in dishes and allowed to divide. Some divided, while others died, and from the cells that divided researchers were able to produce two lines of embryonic stem cells. In other words, this study does essentially nothing to prove the point that Advanced Cell Technology (the company that carried out the experiments) has argued in the press: that single cells removed from an early embryo and cultured by themselves can produce lines of embryonic stem cells.
The misinformation peddled on this subject is just staggering. Reminder to self — you can never be too skeptical about what you read in the papers.