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Scientists Generate a New Type of Human Stem Cell That Has Half a Genome

The Azrieli Foundation is pleased to share news of a breakthrough discovery of a new type of human stem cells through work done at the Azrieli Centre for Stem Cells and Genetic Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the results were published in the prestigious journal Nature.

Prof. Nissim Benvenisty, Director of the Azrieli Center at the Hebrew University, and Prof. Dieter Egli from Columbia University and the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), in a study led by graduate student Ido Sagi, succeeded in isolating human embryonic cells with only one set of chromosomes by triggering human egg cells to divide into embryonic cells without fertilization. Prof. Benvenisty notes, “This research reveals a new type of human stem cell that will have a profound impact on human genetic and medical research.”

“One of the greatest advantages of using haploid human cells is that it is much easier to edit their genes,” explained Ido Sagi, the PhD student who led the research at the Azrieli Center. In diploid cells, detecting the biological effects of a single-copy mutation is difficult, because the other copy is normal and serves as “backup.”

The research, supported by the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the New York State Stem Cell Science Program, and by the Azrieli Foundation, underscores the importance of private philanthropy in advancing cutting-edge science.

In 2015, The Azrieli Foundation announced a $6 million gift to the Hebrew University to establish the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research, and to provide it with ongoing operational support. The Foundation extends its congratulations to Ido Sagi and Professors Benvenisty and Egli, and look forward to more exciting announcements.

To learn more about this discovery and its importance, we invite you to watch this video:

To read more about the discovery, please click here.

For the Nature abstract, please click here.