Stem Cell Research and the Presidential Race

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  1. Rick Garnett says:

    Professor Korobkin writes: “[I]t is too early to tell whether the new cells – called induced pluripotent stem cells – will actually be as useful as embryonic stem cells[.]”

    But, James Thomson has said that these new cells are identical to (i.e., they satisfy all the markers that characterize) embryonic stem cells. And, my understanding (based, obviously, on my best efforts to understand what I read, and not on expert training) is that it is much easier to work with IPS cells than with embryonic stem cells. What’s more, my understanding is that IPS cells are patient-specific (another advantage).

    He also writes that “the new cells are made by inserting genes (which can cause cancer) with retroviruses (which can cause cancer).” But, this does not distinguish IPS cells from embryonic stem cells, which are associated with the formation of tumors (and so are presently unsafe for clinical trials in humans). Also, it has been in the news that one of the breakthrough scientists from Japan has figured out a way to reprogram skin cells without using the gene associated with cancer.