October 06, 2013

Advancements in somatic-cell nuclear transfer prove promising for future of regenerative medicine


Since the birth of Dolly, the cloned sheep, in 1996, somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology has been assumed to be used only for cloning various species. In a recent article published in Animal Frontiers, authors Kiho Lee and Randall S. Prather (University of Missouri) discuss and summarize advancements in the SCNT technology, specifically in pigs.

Advancements in SCNT technology and efficiency have produced a better understanding of nuclear transfer and timing, and improvements in the embryo culture system: “Improvements in embryo culture will increase the availability of high quality embryos and thus increase the application of SCNT” (Lee, Prather). The article also discusses the utilization of SCNT for the production of genetically engineered pigs and the impact this technology could have on genetic engineering in domestic animals in the future. Recent developments show that gene targeting can be much more efficient with SCNT, a process that has been considered challenging and inefficient in the past. Additionally, pigs are genetically very similar to humans, which have made them an excellent model for biomedical studies. Lee and Prather claim that advancements in pig SCNT will facilitate various achievements in this technology.

One of the possible advancements in the use of SCNT is the ability to generate stem cells from somatic cells. This process has the potential to be used as a source of cells to help treat degenerative diseases in humans, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The U.S. National Institutes of Health has recognized pigs as an important model for human diseases and has established a National Swine Resource and Research Center at the University of Missouri; this center has been founded to serve as a genetic resource for the biomedical community at large.

The advancements discussed in this article are important in the field of SCNT technology and will help researchers in producing genetic modifications for a variety of purposes, including the applications of pigs to study human diseases and regenerative medicine. There are still many unknown factors about SCNT, and research clarifying the process would provide more pathways to use SCNT.

This article is titled “Advancement in somatic cell nuclear transfer and future perspectives,” and can be found at animalfrontiers.org.

Scientific contact:
Kiho Lee
University of Missouri

Media Contact:
Anne Zinn
ASAS Communications