Stem cells from skin

In my Ethics class, we discuss the issues that surround the field of research. There are many troubling questions. Different sectors of society respond differently. It's a chaotic debate that's going on. It seems endless. As each year unveils a development in the biosciences, new issues are inevitably introduced.

But here's good news for everyone, something that could "quell the ethical debate troubling the field":

Two teams of scientists reported Tuesday that they had turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo.

All the scientists did was add four genes which reprogrammed the chromosomes of the skin cells, much like clicking the system restore key to a computer.

This is a breakthrough because it shows that cells of the body can be induced to become "embryonic-like." Cells in this state are best for research because they're easily manipulated. They can easily become other cell types. This characteristic renders them ideal of medical purposes--like growing your ear back.

4 thoughts on “Stem cells from skin”

  1. One thing that bothers me with this breakthrough is if these stem cells are embryonic. Embryonic, as in they could be implanted in a viable uterus and made to grow into a clone. Now that would lead to another spectacular debate show.

  2. The skin cells were modified such that they became embryonic-like stem cells. It's helpful because at least now, scientists don't have to deal with ethical complications brought about by experiments with embryos.

  3. Yep. I know they came from the skin and reprogrammed, but the question is how "embryonic" are these new stem cells. Can they be implanted in the uterus?

  4. Kuya, that's what the scientists are still about to confirm.

    The article reads, "Thomson and Yamanaka caution, though, that they still must confirm that the reprogrammed human skin cells really are the same as stem cells they get from embryos."

    But the scientists do report that "The reprogrammed cells appear to behave exactly like human embryonic stem cells."

    So, di pa sila ganun ka sure.

Leave a Reply