Saturday, November 01, 2008

Latest on the stem cell question

Erin Richards reports on a new technique that can, according to the authors of the referenced paper, reliably transform adult stem cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). One commenter points out that this not only avoids the ethical dilemma of embryonic stem cells but could bypass rejection problems if the cells are used for human repair, since the iPS cells could come from the patient's own body.
COMMENT: I don't claim the expertise to say whether the iPS technique could provide cells capable of doing all the same things embryonic stem cells could do, but it's important to take a long look at any option that provides the benefits without the problems in this minefield of research. It's also important to point out two things that often get misstated in the emotional debate. One is that it's not true the US government forbids or even restricts such research, only that federal money can be used only for work with a limited number of existing cell lines. There are projects all over the US using state or private funds. The second is that this is all still about potential. Years of research in the US and around the world, including large projects backed by government funds in countries like South Korea, have yet to produce a single product or process that has entered human trials.


shred colorado said...

I found a compelling opinion against embryonic stem cells used as a cure for humans that made me question, but not sway from fully supporting stem cell research.

What I found was “Pluripotentcy of an embryonic stem cell is a two edged-sword”. science cannot begin to control the embryonic stem cell’s ability and desire to become whatever it pleases. Good embryonic researchers can train their cells to significantly help patients with many different diseases, but once the cells are finished doing that, off they go, wherever and whenever and however they wish and that “however” too often results in tumors.never be used with human subjects.

I was curoios if this bears any validity to you?

Matt Bille said...

I don't know this field well enough to comment on the probability of the concern you outline. I assume this would be discovered in the animal testing phase, since the stem cells of, say, a rhesus monkey, should react the same way.