The Corner

Non-Destructive Science on the March

ScienceDaily reports:

A team led by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute has developed a method that dramatically improves the efficiency of creating stem cells from human adult tissue, without the use of embryonic cells. The research makes great strides in addressing a major practical challenge in the development of stem-cell-based medicine.

The findings were published in an advance, online issue of the journal Nature Methods on October 18, 2009.

The new technique, which uses three small drug-like chemicals, is 200 times more efficient and twice as fast as conventional methods for transforming adult human cells into stem cells (in this case called “induced pluripotent stem cells” or “iPS cells”).

Fellow Cornerite Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, comments: “Every step forward in the use of iPS cells is encouraging, since these cells appear to be pluripotent but do not require the destruction of embryos. This latest advance is not transformative, it is an improvement in efficiency, so it does not fundamentally alter the field or the debate, but it is valuable.”