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Medicine Science

Advance In Making Stem Cells From Skin 139

KillerBob writes with an advance on the news from a year back that stem cells can be produced from human skin — discussed here. Now Canadian researchers have found a safe way to generate stem cells without using viruses to modify the genome, a process that can have its own dangers. "The ethical debate over embryonic stem cell use may soon be moot, thanks to a Canadian team of researchers who, together with a team out of Scotland, has found a safe way to grow stem cells from a patient's own skin. The revolutionary finding, described in a paper published yesterday by the international science journal Nature, means doctors may be one step closer to treating a multitude of diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's."
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Advance In Making Stem Cells From Skin

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  • article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ccharlot ( 1490733 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:31PM (#27047683)
    Any way to access the article without paying through the nose?
  • By the way... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) * <> on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:34PM (#27047703) Homepage Journal
    The universities in the study in question are both public universities. This is government science funding at work; its a shame it isn't US government science funding.
  • Also as important... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Y.A.A.P. ( 1252040 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:39PM (#27047723)

    The question of whether these cells can be re-differentiated without using a virus to reprogram the cells is an important question yet to be answered from this research.

    There is another important question to be addressed with this technique, however.

    The article mentions cancer as a side effect for virus-engineered stem cells and immune rejection for stem cells from other people.

    Would this technique manage to create stem cell-derived new cells without their own set of side effects?

    Cancer is assumed as a side effect of the virus-engineered stem cells only. Since any tissue being made from converted stem cells is put through accelerated growth, what safeguards are there against tumor growth (cancerous or non-cancerous) with this new technique?

    I ask this since I read another article noted tumor growth at stem-cell graft sites is common. That article didn't note whether these cases were from virus-engineered stem cells or not.

  • by drosboro ( 1046516 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:45PM (#27047739)

    That would be the general idea, yes. But, unless I'm missing something, there's no actual clinical treatment for doing that for skin yet. If I am reading correctly, the only "production-ready" stem cell treatments are involving cancer (specifically leukemia and other blood-related cancers) - there's been some success at replenishing bone marrow after a round of chemo knocks out all of the existing marrow.

  • Re:What is ethics? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @12:11AM (#27047851)

    Wow that's a loaded question. Assuming you are not a troller I will try to answer as best I can. Some schools of ethics rely on the presence of a higher power, while IMHO the more stable and logical schools follow the 'least amount of harm' philosophy. The question needs to be asked, will more harm come to society if we use embryonic stem cells or if we avoid them. In this case it seems to me that the answer is using them causes no harm, which is why the Canadian government cannot find a reason to ban the use of embryonic material

  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @12:21AM (#27047887)

    Just because something is controversial doesn't mean it's useless. I think you'll find that Science in general has a habit of being controversial (e.g. "Big Bang vs. God"), but that doesn't make the findings any less valuable or useful. Who knows what this research might lead into, it might be something really cool, it might be nothing, but there's a good chance that in future, OTHER research will be based upon it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @02:31AM (#27048459)

    I recently saw a talk by Rudolf Jaenisch, who is one of the pioneers in this field. He stressed that while there is great hope for iPS cells, they underscore the need for more work done with actual embryonic lines. The first iPS cells made in 2006 couldn't do the same things as the newer lines that are made today, and the lines that are made today can't do all the things that some embryonic lines can do. We need to do much more research to characterize the embryonic lines to understand what makes them special and able to do the things that they can do so that we'll be able to make iPS with the same properties and therapeutic possibilities. So sure, in the future, we may be doing all our treatment with iPS cells, we still have a long way to go with quality embryonic lines before we can get to that point.

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