Safe Stem Cell alternative discovered

Posted by Samantha Rose Hunt

Chicago (IL) - Scientists have developed a method to turn skin cells into Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS cells), which are on their way to becoming a second alternative to embryonic stem cells for related research. This advancement further demonstrates how science can address the moral and ethical concerns relating to such things as embryonic stem cell research, if only given a few years to sort it out.





In an article published in Nature, it was depicted how scientists were able to reprogram ordinary skin cells to iPS cells without utilizing viruses to transmit the reprogramming genes into the cell. Scientists were able to insert DNA utilizing a "piggyback" system which enabled them to alter the genetic makeup of a normal cell prior to removing it harmlessly.



This little trick has allowed researchers to transform skin cells belonging to both mice and humans into iPS cells without any risks of cancer. This side-effect was an issue when the research was originally conducted in 2006.



The discovery means these iPS cells are much closer to being utilized in humans during clinical trials. This is a feat that has formerly only been accomplished by adult stem cells (not embryonic). The discovery also shows how scientists are making advances in the use of iPS cells and adult stem cells, and are moving away from the utilization of embryonic stem cells.



Nagy also told The Post that his study showed iPS cells "had many of the properties of embryonic stem cells" and that this study would allow scientists to begin relying on adult cells rather than those of fetuses to generate iPS cells.



Canadian scientist Andras Nagy told the Washington Post, "It's a leap forward in the safe application of these cells ... We expect this to have a massive impact on this field."



Due to the findings in the study, more scientists will begin utilizing the iPS cells thus potentially making embryonic stem cell research a thing of the past.