The recent report suggests that skin cells has four genes that are needed to reprogram human somatic cells that carry the essential characteristics of embryonic stem cells. Image Credit: Half Life Source, LLC
Stem Cell From Skin Cell Discovery A Stronger Solution
The medical ethical debate of using cells from human embryos to create, grow, and develop implanted replacement cells for damaged cells in living humans, may be over and with good reason.
It was believed that the only way to get cells that could be used the create cells that function for different parts of the human body was from material that held the beginning of life. These cells were believed to be the only cells that were “Pluripotent” – the ability to be programmed to become a cell that would function for the specific function the group of cells to be implanted or replaced.
Stem (pluripotent) cells can now be converted from living human skin cell tissue. The skin cells, once converted, act as dynamic as original stem cells harvested from embryos but with some greater advantages.
Let us set aside the fact that once an embryo is compromised when the stem cells are harvested from the embryo (this means that the embryo will not be able to develop into a new human life), the stem cells that are used to grow the replacement cell structures, once implanted, stand a chance of being rejected by the human body in which the repair takes place.
When stem cells are created from the skin of the human host patient and then used to create the specific cell structure needed to repair a damaged area of the same human patient, there is no rejection of the implanted repair cells.
This excerpted and edited from Half Life Source, LLC -
Skin Cells to Replace Embryonic Stem Cells
A new breakthrough in scientific research suggests that reprogrammed human skin cells behave like embryonic stem cells.
By John Lester - Half Life Source - Published: Nov 26, 2007, 1:46 PM EST
The scientific research was carried out in the lab of UW-Madison biologist and professor of anatomy at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, James Thomson, the scientist who in 1998 was the first to recover embryonic stem cells from human embryos. This time the detailed study was led by Junying Yu of the Genome Center of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center.
Embryonic stem cells are valued above all others, because until now they are the only kind remarkably shown to be truly "pluripotent", that is having the capacity to become any of the 220 discerning types of cell in the human body. They have the undeveloped potential to generate new heart, liver, brain, muscle and bone tissue, and replace diseased or damaged tissue in people who are ill with cardiovascular, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and a whole range of the other diseases including diabetes.
Scientists at UW-Madison said that the new method developed by Yu and colleagues brings the new generation of pluripotent stem cells within easy reach of many labs of "moderate sophistication".
The other advantage of the new method is the fact that using cells drawn from the patient's own skin, the stem cells can be customized to the patient, bringing numerous benefits, such as the elimination of immune system rejection.
Further, we at MAXINE believe, even if the source skin cells come from a non-patient host show signs of rejection when implanted in the patient ... this is a far better solution than compromising an embryo and the potential of a new human life for the same result.
And this opinion from the San Jose Mercury News -
Breakthrough shouldn't derail current research
Mercury News Editorial - Article Launched: 11/27/2007 01:38:58 AM PST
The wisdom of California's stem-cell research strategy shone through last week amid the news of an exciting potential breakthrough by scientists in Japan and Wisconsin.
Researchers announced significant progress in advancing the possibility that human skin cells could be reprogrammed to behave like embryonic stem cells.
Any development that brings us closer to curing some of the world's most devastating diseases should be greeted with open arms - but a possibility years in the future is no substitute for the work going on today thanks to the foresight of California voters.
Opponents of embryonic stem cell research, including President Bush, are already arguing that the skin cell advance should end the use of stem cells derived from human embryos. That would be short-sighted from a scientific and moral view.
Stem-cell research has the potential to cure such dreaded diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and could provide solutions to spinal cord injuries, leukemia and juvenile diabetes. Scientists are years away from knowing if human skin cells will actually work as a substitute.
It was the president and others playing politics with stem-cell research that prompted Proposition 71 in 2004. Californians realized that if the research was going to succeed, it would require a steady flow of funds. The world's brightest scientists need that assurance if they are going to devote their careers to a project.
As a result of the 10-year, $3 billion investment, the best stem-cell researchers in the world have been flocking to California. If the Japan and Wisconsin research continues to show promise, California could shift some of its dollars to that effort. But it must stay committed to the work already under way here.
President Bush's stem-cell strategy is to deny federal funding for research because it destroys human embryos. But his moral objection doesn't apply to hundreds of thousands of human embryos discarded every year in the name of in vitro fertilization.
This infuriates the great majority of scientists, who believe the federal policy has set the nation back at least five years in making medical advances.
The 2008 presidential candidates need to tell voters where they stand on federal funding for stem-cell research. With federal support, cures could come far more quickly. But regardless of who is the next president, Californians will have the satisfaction of knowing they've assured progress on stem-cell research for years to come.
At MAXINE we ask, if the ship is headed in a damaging direction (damaging to the potential of a new human life), why not just change the direction of the ship?
There is the additional argument against socialism (the investment of public monies in private research with little or no accountability) but that is a completely different argument - one that the San Jose Mercury News is unwilling to address.