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August 22, 2005

Stem cell generates from skin cells

From the Washington Post...

Scientists for the first time have turned ordinary skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells -- without having to use human eggs or make new human embryos in the process, as has always been required in the past, a Harvard research team announced yesterday.

The technique uses laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells -- such as the ones that President Bush has already approved for use by federally funded researchers -- to "reprogram" the genes in a person's skin cell, turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell itself.

The approach -- details of which are to be published this week in the journal Science but were made public on the journal's Web site yesterday -- is still in an early stage of development. But if further studies confirm its usefulness, it could offer an end run around the heated social and religious debate that has for years overshadowed the field of human embryonic stem cell research.

Since the new stem cells in this technique are essentially rejuvenated versions of a person's own skin cells, the DNA in those new stem cells matches the DNA of the person who provided the skin cells. In theory at least, that means that any tissues grown from those newly minted stem cells could be transplanted into the person to treat a disease without much risk that they would be rejected, because they would constitute an exact genetic match.

What should this mean? The stem cell debate could easily be moot, therefore before we embrace the morbid world of harvesting other human beings we should explore the alternatives.

What will it mean? Those who live for the opportunity to kill or watch killed the most innocent and defenseless in society will seethe at the idea of being robbed of their fun. They'll poo-poo this technology, claim it's bogus, and that the only hope for humanity is to continue Hitler's practice of dividing society into the Morlocks and Eloi, themselves deciding who belongs to which group.

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 22, 2005 09:15 AM

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