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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Christianity & Science  > New developments in stem cell research

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Old 07-23-2009, 06:46 PM
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Default New developments in stem cell research

I seem to remember some pretty hot debate over embryonic stem cells some time back. But many scientist simply sought other way to "get there". Perhaps embryonic cells are not actually the best way to accomplish the goal of researchers after all. And to think of how many politicians were lined up ready to sacrifice human life to possibly extend their own.

For the uninformed there are some good general statements as to what stem cells are and how they work.

The real question here is "Does this change anything in regard to our opinion of stem cell research?".

By Tan Ee Lyn

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese researchers have managed to create powerful stem cells from mouse skin and used these to generate fertile live mouse pups.

They used induced pluripotent skin cells, or iPS cells -- cells that have been reprogrammed to look and act like embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, taken from days-old embryos, have the power to morph into any cell type and, in mice, can be implanted into a mother's womb to create living mouse pups.

Their experiment, published in Nature, means that it is theoretically possible to clone someone using ordinary connective tissue cells found on the person's skin, but the experts were quick to distance themselves from such controversy.

"We are confident that tremendous good can come from demonstrating the versatility of reprogrammed cells in mice, and this research will be used to ... understand the root causes of disease and lead to viable treatments and cures of human afflictions," said Fanyi Zeng of the Shanghai Institute of Medical Genetics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

"It would not be ethical to attempt to use iPS cells in human reproduction. It is important for science to have ethical boundaries," she said, adding that their study was "in no way meant as a first step in that direction."

No one has ever cloned a human being and while many stem cell experiments in mice have been replicated in humans, not all have.

Led by Qi Zhou at the Chinese Academy of Sciences's State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, the team created iPS cells, using mouse fibroblasts, which are cells found in connective tissue in the skin.

Stem cells are the body's master cells, giving rise to all the tissues, organs and blood. Embryonic stem cells are considered the most powerful kind of stem cells as they have the potential to give rise to any type of tissue.

But they are difficult to make and require the use of an embryo or cloning technology. Many people also object to using human embryonic stem cells and many countries limit funding for such experiments.

From the skin cells, the Chinese scientists created 37 stem cell lines, and of these, three generated live births.

"One line can generate such competent mice that the longest living one we have is nine months," Zeng told Reuters.

"It has generated now more than 100 of second-generation (mice) and more than 100 third-generation (mice). It really demonstrates how fertile and strong the system is."

The Chinese experiment generated questions and caution from other stem cell researchers not connected to the study.

"These investigators have, for the first time, unequivocally demonstrated that the iPS lines they have generated are truly pluripotent," wrote Andrew Laslett, group leader of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Technology at the Australian Stem Cell Center in Melbourne, Australia.

Pluripotent is a term meaning the cells can give rise to all the tissues in the body.

"Moreover, the long-term stability of both the iPS cell lines and the long-term health of the mice generated using this procedure are yet to be reported. It will be interesting to see whether mice generated in this fashion have a higher propensity for tumor formation," Laslett wrote.


(Editing by Maggie Fox and Sugita Katyal)
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: New developments in stem cell research

I think that this is good new for all concerned. I personally had no problem using embryonic cells for research, but if we can now develop the ability to use stem cells more productively, then that sounds like the way to go.

Lasklett had been trying to do this for a year or so and it sounds like the Chinese have got one up on the Aussies, but that's all to the good. I can see this type of research really taking off in the next few years. I only hope that I'll still be around by the time they have it developed sufficiently so that it will keep me ticking over past my use-by date.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:45 PM
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Default Re: New developments in stem cell research

Actually from what I have read several different groups have been able to make advances using theses "pluripotent" cells. One group used them to successfully repair the heart of a mouse which had suffered a heart attack. This is the first reports I have read of using them to create embryos.
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