Friday, October 01, 2010

Things That Make You Go Wow

Some good news on the stem cell research front came out this week. First of all, a federal appeals court lifted the injunction against using federal funds for research being done with embryonic stem cells under the new federal guidelines. Researchers can continue to receive those funds until the appeal is heard. Second, researchers not using embryonic stem cells have developed a new technique which comes very close to developing stem cells from adult tissue.

From the Boston Globe:

Boston scientists have pioneered a fast and efficient technique for turning adult cells into stem cells that is already changing laboratory practice and eliminates a major safety hurdle to eventually using such cells to treat patients. ...

The new technique, published online yesterday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, does not involve dangerous genetic alterations and is almost twice as fast and up to 100 times more efficient than the standard method used to spin cells back to an embryonic-like state. The induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, that are formed more closely resemble embryonic stem cells than those made using standard methods.

Researchers aren't quite "there" yet, but they're coming closer to an important first step in the process. The article does a pretty good job of describing the science involved, and the new procedure does look promising, but that doesn't mean we can dispense with embryonic stem cell research, as the article makes clear:

“Does this mean we’re done with human embryonic stem cells? I think all of us would like to find the day, as soon as possible,’’ that it is done, [Douglas Melton, a stem cell biologist] said. “Our goal is to make cells that are identical to embryonic stem cells. . . . [Rossi] wouldn’t even know if he were getting close to the goal unless he could use embryonic stem cells as the standard.’’

With any luck and a whole lot of hard work, the parallel research tracks will converge, thereby undercutting one of the main objections of the anti-science Religious Reich to such work. In the meantime, we should be working to repeal the Dickey-Wicker act which will make the current court case against embryonic stem cell research moot.



Blogger shrimplate said...

Republicans hate science.

5:59 AM  

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