Monday, August 22, 2005

More Stem Cell Alternatives

Harvard University researchers have announced a new technique that shows tremendous promise in creating cells that have embryonic stem-cell like properties. (Herald Sun: New method of creating stem cells ). This technique, which combines human skin cells with existing embryonic stem cells, produces a new set of cells that appear "re-programmed" to acquire stem-cell properties. Researchers believe the new cells will be useful in the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

This announcement comes in the wake of an announcement last week whereby cells with stem-cell like properties were successfully obtained from umbilical blood. Harvesting new embryonic stem cells is controversial in the US and is prohibited in any program receiving federal funding.

What these two discoveries illustrate are the alternatives available capable of producing the same results without requiring the harvesting of embryonic stem cells. While its likely that research along these lines would have occurred with or without the current ban on embryonic harvesting, it's equally likely that such restrictions have spurred interest in researching alternatives. What's clear at this point is that there are alternatives that do not require harvesting embryonic stem cells, and those alternatives must be pursued. Given the current trend, the controversy surrounding stem cell research may well become moot.

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1 comment :

Alan Fraser said...

While the rest of the world is researching how one can apply stem cells, America seeks to find how to create them. America is not leading the way to anything but mediocrity in this regard.