( dpa ) - A team of US researchers said Thursday they had created cloned embryos from adult human cells.
Scientists at Stemagen Corp, a reproductive lab in La Jolla, California said in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Stem Cells that they had successfully inserted DNA from adult male skin cells into a donor egg that had had its genetic material removed.
Researchers did not address whether the embryos could have developed into human babies because that was not the point of the project and the embryos were destroyed in tests to compare their DNA to that of the volunteers.
The goal of the project is eventually to produce stem cells that match the donor's DNA, but this part of the project did not produce stem cells because the embryos were destroyed.
The development "has the potential to revolutionize our understanding and development of treatments for degenerative diseases," the team led by Andrew French wrote in the journal.
Proponents see the technology as a potential way to generate stem cells from a patient's own body that would not be rejected in potential therapies and treatments for diseases.
Embryonic stem cells can develop into any cell in the body, but their use has raised ethical concerns because an embryo must be destroyed to retrieve them. Anti-abortion advocates and religious groups have called that equivalent to taking a human life.
The US government bans the use of federal money to create new embryonic stem cell lines for research, but allows money to be used on stem cell colonies in existence before 2001.
Last year, US and Japanese scientists reprogrammed human skin cells to function like embryonic stem cells, raising the possibility of by-passing ethical considerations.
Claims of human cloning in the past have been proven false, making the scientific community wary of such declarations.