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3 Oct 2014
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Transplanting Cloned Organs
Scientists in the US have successfully transplanted cloned heart and kidney tissues into cows without them being rejected.

The researchers, headed by Dr Robert Lanza at Advanced Cell Technology in the USA, say that if the same is true of human tissue, then then it brings the prospect of new treatments for presently incurable diseases - so-called therapeutic cloning - one step closer.

The aim of therapeutic cloning is to take a cell from a patient and grow nerve, muscles or cartilage to replace worn out tissues. But the big question is whether cloned tissue really is genetically identical to that of the patient: if not it'll be rejected.

To test this researchers in the US cloned cows and grew the resulting embryos in a cow's womb. After a few weeks some of the organs started forming - the researchers cut out kidney and muscle cells from the cloned foetuses and grew them into mini-organs. They then grafted these mini-organs back under the skins of the cows from whom they were cloned.

They found that the cloned organs were not only compatible - but also began working. There's still a lot of work to be done, however, before the technique can be tried out on human patients. Chiefly because legislation forbids cutting organs out of a maturing cloned foetus. The challenge ahead is to grow organ tissue from embryonic cells that are a few days old in test tubes which can then be transplanted.

Advanced Cell Technology
Gene Stories - the BBC's guide to genetics

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Images of Kidneys after 12 Weeks
Kidney A
Control without cells
kidney B
Control with cells from other bovine
kidney C
With cloned cells
kidney D
Also with cloned cells
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