Stem Cell Research – Changing???

Here is an interesting article from FAITH AND FAMILY VALUES:

LIFE DIGEST: Researchers moving to reprogrammed cells from embryonic ones

By Tom StrodeAug 19, 2008

Prominent scientists previously committed to stem cell research that destroys human embryos apparently are shifting their allegiance to reprogrammed stem cells that do no harm.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s George Daley, a former president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, is talking up reprogrammed, or induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs), the online newsletter BioEdge reported Aug. 14. Only three years ago, Daley testified before a U.S. Senate committee that reprogramming was “extremely high-risk” and cloning for destructive embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) was preferred, according to BioEdge.

Daley and fellow researchers have used reprogrammed stem cells to produce cell lines for 10 diseases, including muscular dystrophy, juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Down syndrome, according to a report in the journal Cell, Bio Edge reported.

“We wanted to produce a large number of disease models for ourselves, our collaborators and the stem cell research community to accelerate research,” Daley said. “The original embryonic stem cell lines are generic, and allow you to ask only basic questions. But these new lines are valuable tools for attacking the root causes of disease. Our work is just the beginning for studying thousands of diseases in a Petri dish.”

As a result, Daley and other scientists have progressed further using reprogrammed cells “in six months than he had in years toiling over embryonic stem cells,” BioEdge observed.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) appears to be moving toward IPS cell research as well, according to BioEdge. In an Aug. 13 news release, CIRM described itself as “the largest source of funding for embryonic and pluripotent stem cell research in the world” after long calling itself a funding source only for ESCR, according to the newsletter.

“It appears that the CIRM’s love affair with slow, inefficient, expensive, ethically fraught and legally complex human embryonic stem cells may be drawing to a close,” BioEdge commented.

Bioethics specialist Wesley Smith wrote of the developments on his weblog, “It may not yet be a full fledged exodus, but it would appear that the tide has changed dramatically.

“If this continues, and it becomes clear that the tide is irreversibly flowing toward IPSCs, the political ability to create an international ban on human cloning with the catcalls of CURES! CURES! CURES! to distract leaders from doing the right thing will increase. We may actually be able to throttle human cloning before it gets too far out of the test tube.”

Reprogrammed cells, or IPSCs, gained worldwide attention in November when research teams in Japan and Wisconsin reported they converted normal human skin cells into stem cells that were, in effect, embryonic in nature.

Embryonic stem cells are considered “pluripotent,” meaning they can develop into all of the different cell types in the body. Adult stem cells, also referred to as non-embryonic stem cells, typically have been regarded as “multipotent,” meaning they can form many, though not all, of the body’s cell types. The 2007 study results showed adult cells can become “pluripotent.”

The stunning reports were issued only days after cloning pioneer Ian Wilmut startled the scientific world by announcing he had abandoned research, or therapeutic, cloning in favor of the reprogramming method.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues, giving hope for the development of cures for a variety of diseases and other ailments.

BioEdge says its seeks to promote ethics and compassion in medicine.

You can find this article and more at this link.

-Tim A. Blankenship

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