Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another stem cell breakthrough

A team of American scientists reported Sunday that they had widened the scope of a Japanese breakthrough in stem cells that many experts have hailed as the greatest medical achievement of 2007.

In November, Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and colleagues announced they had reprogrammed human skin cells to have the multiple potency of stem cells culled from human embryos. [...]

Reporting on Sunday in Nature, a team led by George Daley of the Children's Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, say they have been able to use the same four genes to derive iPS from foetal lung and skin cells, from neo-natal skin cells as well as from skin samples taken from a healthy human volunteer.

The research is important as it marks a step forward to "patient-specific" stem cells -- in other words, transplanted stem cells that carry the same genetic code as the patient and thus cannot be rejected as alien by the body's immune system, they say.

I've always been too cowardly to take a stand on abortion, as the logical conclusion of most positions are odious to me. It's one of the mercifully few issues in American public life where our ideals of liberty and morality are in direct conflict. So developments like this are most welcome here atop my fence.

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