Scientists Speed Creation of Stem Cells

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer 2 hours, 18 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match for injured or sick patients.
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It is a major advancement in the quest to grow patients' own replacement tissue to treat diseases.

The same scientists last year were the first to clone a human embryo. Now they have improved, by more than tenfold, their efficiency at culling these master cells, thus making pursuit of therapeutic cloning more practical...
Any potential therapy is years away from being tested in people. But the new research marks several advances:

_Last year's cloned stem cells were from one healthy woman. This time, the Seoul scientists created stem cells that were genetic matches to each of 11 patients - male and female, as young as age 2 and as old as 56, suffering either spinal cord injuries, diabetes or a genetic immune disease.

_Last year, it took attempts with 242 donated human eggs to grow one batch of stem cells. This time, it took an average of 17 eggs per batch and 14 eggs if they were from women younger than 30.

_The researchers eliminated use of mouse "feeder cells" that, until now, have been used to nourish human stem-cell lines, easing concerns about animal contamination.