Researchers make breakthrough with adult stem cells
The battle over stem-cell research is fraught with spin and counterspin, and it's not just limited to embryonic stem cell issues. As others have noted, research into adult stem-cells has been ignored or grossly misrepresented as partisans attempt to convince the public that scientists must create and destroy human life for research purposes.
Predictably, major news that researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have made a breakthrough in turning adult cells into "precursor cells" has gone almost completely unmentioned by the mainstream media (it may have as much to do with its Christmas announcement as with media bias). But the discovery may make the debate over embryonic stem cell research wholly obsolete.
The scientists found that a small synthetic molecule called reversine can be a kind of cellular fountain of youth, turning cells normally programmed to create muscles around on their "differentiation pathway," turning them into the immature, malleable cells they started as.
"This has the potential to make stem cell research more practical," researcher Sheng Ding said. "This will allow you to derive stem-like cells from your own mature cells, avoiding the technical and ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells."
In fact, says the Scripps Research Institute press release, this approach may be better than embryonic stem cells for more reasons than ethical ones:
Stem cell therapy would be most effective if you could use your own stem cells, since using one's own cells would avoid potential complications from immune rejection of foreign cells. However, in general it has proven very difficult to isolate and propagate stem cells from adults. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) ...1