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Chinese scientists have extracted stem cells — which have the potential to form a wide variety of different cell types — from embryos created by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs stripped of their own chromosomes.

The team of researchers say that these ‘derived’ stem cells may provide an alternative to those extracted from human embryos. But some researchers think that the derived cells won't to be able to grow indefinitely in the same way that human embryonic cells do.

Many scientists believe that research on stem cells is a promising step in the treatment of degenerative diseases. But others argue that it is unethical. This latest research — which will be published this week in the journal Cell Research — is expected to reignite the debate over the ethics of creating hybrid embryonic stem cells.

Link to news story in Nature

Reference: Nature 424, 711 (2003)

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