Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells made from human somatic cells are a very recent technology of our world. They were first created using mice in 2006, and were created from human cells in 2007 by Japanese and US scientists. For many people, they represent a beautiful work of science that will help to save many lives. Induced pluripotent stem cells are human skin cells that have been reprogrammed to have the stem cells ability to differentiate into other somatic cells. The reprogramming is achieved by the insertion of four genes, which, once the process is complete, are removed and the cell has no traces of genetic modification. Another fantastic feature of the iPS is that it genetically matches the donor, so the immune system of the body is much more likely to accept the new cells. IPS cells were developed in the hope that they will one day be used in medical transplants to repair damaged tissues of the human body. They are also already being used in the modeling of diseases and in drug development. Another important way in which these cells are useful is that they take some of the pressure off the embryonic stem cell (ESC) research that is deemed so controversial. Because iPS cells originate from adult cells, no embryos are destroyed for the sake of valuable research. The advances made by the research done with iPS cells may lead us to discoverer cures for the most serious medical problems, mainly meaning birth defects and cancers. However, they may prove to be able to do much more than intended. Since iPS cells can be reprogrammed into cardiac, muscle, brain or even liver cells it is logical that they will be able to divide into entire organs. This would be fantastic, but it may also lead people to believe they’re invincible, because it may seem that no matter how badly they treat their bodies, or how recklessly they live, they will be able to obtain new cells and...
References: Goodenough, P. (2009, March 4) New Stem Cell Advance is Both Ethical and Safe But Embryo Drive Continues. CNS NEWS Retrieved from http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=44455
Stem Cell Basics; What are the potential uses of human stem cells and the obstacles that must be overcome before these potential uses will be realized? Modified April 28 2009. The National Institutes of Health resource for stem cell research. Retrieved from http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics6.asp
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