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Biotech Medicine Science

Non-Embryonic Stem Cells Developed From Skin Cells 175

juliangamble writes "Scientists reported Thursday they had developed a technique that can quickly create safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, a major advance toward developing a less controversial approach for treating a host of medical problems. The researchers published a series of experiments showing they can use laboratory-made versions of naturally occurring biological signals to quickly convert ordinary skin cells into cells that appear virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the same strategy can then coax those cells to morph into specific tissues that would be a perfect match for transplantation into patients."
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Non-Embryonic Stem Cells Developed From Skin Cells

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  • by The Pirou ( 1551493 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @03:47PM (#33764056)
    To quote the article:

    Here we describe a simple, nonintegrating strategy for reprogramming cell fate based on administration of synthetic mRNA modified to overcome innate antiviral responses. We show that this approach can reprogram multiple human cell types to pluripotency with efficiencies that greatly surpass established protocols.


    Better = Better
  • Number of trials (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @03:53PM (#33764132)

    I do not have the exact details but the last time I checked there was one trial for embryonic stem cells registered with the FDA, and it was still in the planning stages. There are many more (I seem to remember the number being around 1900) drug trials ongoing with using adult stem cells. Several of these drug trials are very promising. I am interested in the one showing promise against Parkinsons since a family member has this. In that case the results are not a "promise" that might someday materialize but are documented and present. No one is claiming these studies show a therapy that is ready for the market today but they show improvement that is statistically significant. They are also not in the planning phase but actively in drug trials.

    Additionally many of them are funded by private money. It would seem to me that private investors are looking for a drug that will work (and presumably pay back their investment.) So I am always happy to see new research on this. I am just confused why people are pushing for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. (Unless those pushing for it are the ones who would get the funding, and then there is a potential conflict of interest.)

  • by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @03:56PM (#33764178) Journal

    I think you're right about the former, but why does that matter now? Here we are with an alternative that's better in an absolute sense (even if not in a time relative sense) than embryonic stem cells. So why not go with that and continue to improve the technology? Do we need to go back to destroying embryos to develop an inferior product?

    Also, I'm not wholly convinced that it is just a matter of state-of-the-art improvement where embryonic stem cell research had left off. I think the restriction certainly catapulted this type of research, but there are still over a dozen lines of embryonic stem cells (which can still be infinitely reproduced) that were being worked on, but they did not get to this point.

  • by Tekfactory ( 937086 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:03PM (#33764264) Homepage

    If we had Embryonic stem cells say from Cord blood or some other conflict free source.

    Would the biological signals work the same on them to become muscle, nerve or organ replacement tissue?

  • telomere tail? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:09PM (#33764338) Homepage Journal

    I wonder though, if they don't find a way to lengthen the telomere tail on the cell's dna, it's age won't be reset. You can't just take anyone's skin cells and make stem cells from them, if they're older generation cells the telomere tail will be short and the cell culture's lifespan will also be short.

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:35PM (#33764674)

    History likewise shows numerous examples of people dieing. This doesn't mean that tacos often kill.

    That's a non sequitur.

    Otherwise, we're just bandying about our opinions, aren't we?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:18PM (#33765176)
    My wife recently miscarried a pregnancy of about 7 or 8 weeks. We didn't realize it had miscarried until the first ultrasound appointment. It occurred to me that there was a fetus in there, and one that, if given a choice, we would have gladly donated the dead fetus for researching something like this. It's not as if we aborted the thing in order to do research; it died on its own. I wonder if that's a potential possible conflict free source, as you say.
  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:51PM (#33765554)

    Humans have rights not because of the genetic codes in our cells but because of our individual experience, potential and the investiture of others.

    I see where you're going, logically, but legally speaking you're not correct. Intercourse with a human corpse is one example. Cannibalism is another. Abortion is yet a third, though to an agreeably less distinct sense.

    Material from humans has a greater value than other flesh and bones normally would. That's a simple fact.

    Reproductive material that might produce a viable human, even more so - and understandably so.

I've got a bad feeling about this.