Research on somatic cell nuclear transfer

The research in the field of somatic cell nuclear transfer is predominantly targeted at improving the efficiency of the procedure. According to the assessment of Anzalone et al. 2019, the rate of successfully developed blastocysts from zygotes, i.e. from fertilised eggs, previously created by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer only amounts to 10%. The efficient derivation of blastocysts is of such high importance as they are required in order to obtain derive autologous stem cells which can later be applied for therapeutic purposes.

Important steps for the method of somatic cell nuclear transfer are the removal of the nucleus from the egg cell, the insertion of the new cell nucleus as well as the activation and complete and permanent reprogramming of the reconstituted cell.  For instance and as a result of studies on improving the method, a new procedure was developed with the help of which the nucleus can be removed from the egg cell without the use of UV light which formerly damaged the egg cell. Additionally, the application of minimal invasive laser techniques has opened the opportunity to insert the new cell nucleus more gently into the enucleated ovum as before.

Significant research efforts are currently targeted at the reprogramming of the cell nucleus. Often, the newly constituted cells present an instable genome which results in transcription anomalies. These anomalies predominantly show in a disturbed differentiation and reproduction of the cell. The key source for this is an incomplete interaction between the enucleated ovum and the inserted nucleus, i.e. an incomplete epigenetic reprogramming in the ovum. 

There are diverse approaches which alter steps of the somatic cell nuclear transfer and aim at improving the reprogramming, for example by the means of adding vitamin C or histone deacetylase inhibitors. The main objective of research on somatic cell nuclear transfer is the broader understanding of embryogenesis and an improved controlling of the steps in the development of the cell.

Anzalone, D. A. / Czernik, M. / Loi, P. / Oikawa, M. / Palazzese, L. (2019): Somatic cell nuclear transfer: failures, successes and the challenges ahead. In: International Journal of Developmental Biology 63, 123-130. Doi: 10.1387/ijdb.180324mc Online Version 

Egli, D. / Gouveia, C. / Huyser, C. / Pepper, M. S. (2020): Lessons learned from somatic cell nuclear transfer. In: International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21 (7). Doi: 10.3390/ijms21072314. Online Version 

Zhang, X. / Gao, S. / Liu, X. (2021): Advance in the role of epigenetic reprogram - ming in somatic cell nuclear transfer-mediated embryonic development. In: Stem Cells Int. 2021. Online Version 

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