Friday, October 01, 2010

Stem Cell Science Advances Without Embryos

Scientists have invented an efficient way to produce apparently safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, a long-sought step toward bypassing the moral morass surrounding one of the most promising fields in medicine.

For background, read
Embryonic Stem Cells Fail Where Other Research Advances

UPDATE 4/5/16: Stem Cell Breakthrough Means Embryos Needn't Be Killed

-- From "Cell technique works without embryos" by Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer 10/1/10

A team of researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston published a series of experiments Thursday showing that synthetic biological signals can quickly reprogram ordinary skin cells into entities that appear virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the same strategy can then turn those cells into ones that could be used for transplants.

The cells produced by the Harvard team, known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, would avoid that ethical objection and could in some ways be superior to embryonic stem cells. For example, iPS cells could enable scientists to take an easily obtainable skin cell from any patient and use it to create perfectly matched cells, tissue and potentially even entire organs for transplants that would be immune to rejection.

While cautioning that the work needs to be repeated elsewhere and explored further, other researchers said the technique appears to represent a major development in the promising field of "regenerative medicine," which aims to create treatments tailored to individual patients.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "'Major' stem cell development announced" by Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times 9/30/10

The findings were also hailed by opponents of embryonic stem cell research, who have long criticized the scientific and political communities for focusing on the use of embryos at the expense of other, less morally objectionable methods.

"I think this is a stunning development," said Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. "People have been saying we have to use embryonic stem cells because we don't have an alternative. Well, now we have an alternative."

The research comes at a critical juncture in the embryonic stem cell debate. A federal judge put a hold on such research in August after ruling that the Obama administration had likely violated the law by using federal funding for research that involved the destruction of human embryos.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.