Stojkovic & Murdoch




Source: Reproductive BioMedicine Online,
Volume 11, Number 2, August 2005, pp. 226-231(6)

Derivation of a human blastocyst after heterologous nuclear transfer to donated oocytes
[note authors claim of success after only 36 attempts, compare Dolly's 277 and Hwang's failure after using 2200 donated oocytes]

Authors: Stojkovic, Miodrag1; Stojkovic, Petra1; Leary, Christine2; Hall, Vanessa Jane1; Armstrong, Lyle1; Herbert, Mary2; Nesbitt, Maria2; Lako, Majlinda1; Murdoch, Alison2

 Source: Reproductive BioMedicine Online, Volume 11, Number 2, August 2005, pp. 226-231(6)  Publisher: Reproductive Healthcare Ltd


 This paper describes the derivation of a blastocyst following heterologous nuclear transfer (NT) into a human oocyte. It also demonstrates that a major obstacle to continuing research in human NT is the availability of suitable human oocytes. In this study, 36 oocytes were donated by 11 women undergoing four different treatments and their developmental potential was evaluated after NT. The time from oocyte collection to NT seems to be crucial, and only oocytes that were enucleated within 1 h proved successful. After enucleation of oocytes, fusion with undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells and in-vitro culture, early cleavage and blastocyst development of fused complexes was observed. The DNA fingerprinting comparison of the donor cells and derived blastocyst revealed successful heterologous NT, since both oocytes and donor cells were recovered from different patients. It has therefore been demonstrated that NT can be achieved in humans, using heterologous donor nuclei and surplus and donated oocytes. However, if the promise of this new science is to achieve its potential in the foreseeable future, it will be necessary to identify new sources of oocytes that can be used immediately after retrieval.

1: Centre for Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics, University of Newcastle, UK
2: Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


January 15, 2006

Cloning expert quits country in row with partner

Sarah-Kate Templeton, Medical Correspondent

THE scientist who cloned Britain’s first human embryo has accused his partner of breaching good scientific practice.

Miodrag Stojkovic says the dispute played a “significant part” in his decision to quit Newcastle University to take up a post this month in Spain.

His departure is a setback for therapeutic cloning in Britain. Newcastle University has admitted that its human cloning programme is now on hold, but said it was assembling a new scientific team.

Stojkovic, who was professor of embryology and stem cell biology at Newcastle, has accused Professor Alison Murdoch, his former collaborator, of ignoring good scientific practice by arranging to announce the breakthrough at a press conference.

Stojkovic, who is now deputy director of regenerative medicine at the Prince Felipe research centre in Valencia, also accuses Murdoch of trying to take the credit for his research team’s work.

He says he was so unhappy with the way Murdoch behaved that he has not spoken to her since shortly after their research was published last summer.

The Newcastle team breached convention by publicising the work before a full account had been reviewed by experts and published in full in a scientific journal. At that point only a summary of the findings had been submitted to the online journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online.

Murdoch timed the announcement to coincide with the publication of a scientific paper by a South Korean team led by the now disgraced Professor Woo-suk Hwang, which declared the creation of human stem cells from cloned embryos. The research was faked.

Stojkovic claims Murdoch planned the announcement when he was out of Newcastle. He said he was angry that arrangements had been made to announce his work in an “unprofessional” way and that he took part only because it was too late to prevent the press conference taking place.

“I was upset with the strategy to inform the press before our manuscript was accepted,” said Stojkovic. “Especially to know that the media were invited (to participate in a telephone briefing) without my agreement and knowledge. Other team members were also unaware of this development.” Newcastle insists the decision to go to the media was taken jointly.

Nature, the scientific journal, was also critical. It wrote: “The premature release of this incomplete information . . . is contrary to good scientific practice.”

Although Murdoch is widely described as the leader of Britain’s cloning team, Stojkovic insists her contribution was limited to providing human eggs from her fertility clinic for the experiments. “There are plenty of people dissatisfied with Professor Murdoch taking the publicity,” he said. “The laboratory scientists do not need someone who has been doing nothing in the laboratory and who knows nothing about the work, to represent them.”

Newcastle University insists Murdoch’s contribution was important. Professor Michael Whitaker, dean of research at its faculty of medical sciences, said: “This work was a team effort. You cannot clone an embryo without an egg and you cannot get eggs without a clinic. Professor Murdoch has had to deal with all the ethical and regulatory issues (of using patients’ eggs) and that is a huge contribution.”

A spokesman for Newcastle University admitted that Murdoch had asked Reproductive BioMedicine Online, without the agreement of Stojkovic, to delay publication of the summary until the day the Koreans published their research. But he claimed Stojkovic had approved the statements released to the media.