Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can proliferate indefinitely, maintain an undifferentiated pluripotent state and differentiate into any cell type. Differentiation of ESCs into various specific cell-types may be able to cure or alleviate the symptoms of various degenerative diseases. Unresolved issues regarding maintaining function, possible apoptosis and tumor formation in vivo mean a prudent approach should be taken towards advancing ESCs into human clinical trials. Rhesus macaques provide the ideal model organism for testing the feasibility, efficacy and safety of ESC based therapies and significant numbers of primate ESC lines are now available. In this review, we will summarize progress in evaluating the genetic and epigenetic integrity of primate ESCs, examine their current use in pre-clinical trials and discuss the potential of producing ESCderived cell populations that are genetically identical (isogenic) to the host by somatic cell nuclear transfer.
Keywords: ORMES cell lines, neural progenitor cells (NPCs), MYC oncogene, transplantation, Cloning
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