Keith Latham, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Temple University School of Medicine, presented the research during the symposium, "Cloning Controversies: Ethics, Science and Society." Latham's presentation, "Somatic Cell-Like Features of Cloned Embryos," highlighted the differences that persist between a normal embryo and a cloned embryo and stand in the way of cloning success.
Contributing to the poor success is the inefficiency and slow rate of reprogramming. Reprogramming is the process whereby cloned embryo genes are turned off and normal embryo genes are turned on, allowing a cloned embryo to develop normally. For some reason, most cloned embryos are unable to make this transformation. Consequently, cloned embryos develop and behave as a hybrid – somewhere between an embryo and the adult organism from which it has been cloned.
"Until we learn how to improve the reprogramming of cloned embryos and how to help them transition into a normal, healthy embryo, cloning will remain marginally successful," said Latham.
Latham's research portfolio is focused on reproduction and development at the molecular level. He is currently running four major research projects, all funded by the National Institutes of Health.
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