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JOE PALCA: Mitalipov said during a teleconference earlier today that the process isn't very efficient for deriving stem cell lines.
SHOUKHRAT MITALIPOV: We used 150 eggs to derive one cell line. So, of course, it's quite inefficient.
PALCA: But, he says, his work proves it can be done. Careful scrutiny by both the editors of Nature, the journal where the research will be published, and an independent lab, could find no flaws in Mitalipov's science. Of course, Mitalipov's work is in monkeys, not humans. But Mitalipov thinks it will work with humans.
MITALIPOV: We only worked with monkeys. However, we hope that the technology we developed will be useful for other labs who's working on human subjects, with human eggs and human cells.
PALCA: Labs around the world are trying to make this work for humans. But even if it does, stem cell biologist Irv Weissman from Stanford University says it will be a while before stem cells derived this way will get into a patient.
IRV WEISSMAN: If you're hoping that tomorrow or five years from tomorrow this particular discovery, even if it had been done with human cells rather than primate, will lead to a therapy, you're just jumping the gun.
PALCA: Arnold Kriegstein agrees. Kriegstein runs the stem cell program at the University of California, San Francisco.
ARNOLD KRIEGSTEIN: You can take a skin cell from a patient who's suffering from a genetic disease for which we don't really understand what the genes might be. And you can take that cell - create a stem cell line where the entire stem cell line is composed of cells that inherit the disease gene or genes. You can then use that to model the disease in a dish. And that can help you develop drug therapies that would help treat that disease.
PALCA: Joe Palca, NPR News, Washington.
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