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Friday, January 31, 2014

STAP cells: Bioethical game changers

(Author:  Mikael Haggstrom)
With a stem cell breakthrough that is being hailed as a potential "game changer," scientists have discovered "a simple way" to send mature animal cells back to the future.

In other words, mature animal cells can now be changed "back into an embryonic state." What this means for stem cell biology is that mature "human cells could in future be reprogrammed…to replace damaged cells or grow new organs for sick and injured people."

These back-to-the-future STAP ("Stimulus Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency") cells therefore have the potential to usher in a whole new age of personalized medicine.

This could entail "tackling diseases for which there are currently only limited treatments" via such cell therapies as creating a transplant liver or some "beating heart muscle tissue."

Being able to reprogram mature human cells into pluripotent ones could sidestep the need to harvest stem cells from human embryos.  This in turn might make quite a few bioethicists and right-to-lifers breathe some hearty sighs of relief.


Copyright January 31, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved


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