Human Exceptionalism

Lead Into Gold: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Cure Disease in Mice

Research into the new iPS cells is moving forward at a seemingly breathtaking pace. Mouse studies carried out at Harvard demonstrate that they have the capacity to treat sickle-cell anemia. From the story:

Mice with a human sickle-cell anemia disease trait have been treated successfully in a process that begins by directly reprogramming their own cells to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state, without the use of eggs.

This is the first proof-of-principle of therapeutic application in mice of directly reprogrammed “induced pluripotent stem” (IPS) cells, which recently have been derived in mice as well as humans. The research, reported in Science Express online on December 6, was carried out in the laboratory of Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch. The IPS cells were derived using modifications of the approach originally discovered in 2006 by the Shinya Yamanaka laboratory at Kyoto University.

And get this quote from Jaenisch:

“This demonstrates that IPS cells have the same potential for therapy as embryonic stem cells, without the ethical and practical issues raised in creating embryonic stem cells.”

Jaenisch also states that ESCR needs to continue to further understand issues involving pluripotency. If so, why not just use the Bush-approved lines so that full federal funding can apply?

The stem cell wars are not yet over. But science may have found a way around the ethical contentiousness. Let’s hope so. It would be nice to all row in the same direction for a change.


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