Friday, October 10, 2008

Skin Cells as Stem Cells

news you may not knowYeah - They're in There...

Which side of the debate are you on? Do you favor embryonic stem cell research, hailing it as an extraordinary medical breakthrough? Or, do you object to the use of embryos in the research, believing that destroying them is destroying a human life?

It’s a huge debate – with huge consequences.

But, there is some news on the stem cell front that may transcend the debate. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School report they’ve made progress with using a patient’s own skin cells to create stem cells.

The advantages of this unique approach are significant. Embryonic stem cells are difficult to create, while the process of using skin cells is more straightforward. The cells are also totally compatible with the patient, as they were created using their own tissue. And, of course, they eliminate the argument over the use of embryos.

So, does this settle the debate? Well, with an issue this complex, the answer is “no – for now.” Additional testing needs to be completed to assure the skin-derived stem cells function as expected. But, the potential appears to be tremendous.

So, regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, keep your fingers crossed – success with skin-derived stem cells would be fabulous for everyone.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about stem cells, see this from the National Institutes of Health.


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