After Stem-Cell Breakthrough, the Work Begins

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If stem cell researchers were oil prospectors, it could be said that they struck a gusher last week. But to realize the potential boundless riches they now must figure out how to build refineries, pipelines and gas stations.

Biologists were electrified on Tuesday, when scientists in Japan and Wisconsin reported that they could turn human skin cells into cells that behave like embryonic stem cells, able to grow indefinitely and to potentially turn into any type of tissue in the body.

The discovery, if it holds up, would decisively solve the raw material problem. It should provide an unlimited supply of stem cells without the ethically controversial embryo destruction and the restrictions on federal financing that have impeded work on human embryonic cells.

But scientists still face the challenge of taking that abundant raw material and turning it into useful medical treatments, like replacement tissue for damaged hearts and brains. And that challenge will be roughly as daunting for the new cells as it has been for the embryonic stem cells.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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