MILAN, September 20. The Catholic Church has taken a strong stance against human embryo research. Now, research by an Italian team is being cited as evidence that human embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary. In a paper published in the current issue of NatureNeuroscience (Nat Neurosci 2000, 3:986-991), Angelo Vescovi and colleagues at the Istituto Scientifico H San Raffaele in Milan, describe a new discovery: neural stem cells can give rise to skeletal muscle. As reported by the researchers, "we show that acutely isolated and clonally derived neural stem cells from mice and humans could produce skeletal myotubes in vitro and in vivo, the latter following transplantation into adult animals… we conclude that neural stem cells, that generate neurons, glia and blood cells, can also produce skeletal muscle cells, and can undergo various patterns of differentiation depending on exposure to appropriate epigenetic signals in mature tissues."...

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