reports, two new
studies indicate that stem cells created from reprogrammed body cells may
not be as pluripotent as embryonic stem cells.
Even if it is proven one day that iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells)
will never be as malleable as stem cells obtained from destroyed human embryos,
it doesn’t make embryonic stem cell research any less unethical. Feeling somewhat skeptical about the spin
generated by the media over these studies, AdvanceUSA contacted Dr. David
Prentice to get a better perspective on the implications of these studies. Here’s what he told us by email:
The data show that with current techniques,
some iPS cells may not be completely reprogrammed to be identical to embryonic
stem cells. But the results also show
that in some cases this made it easier to change the iPS cells into specialized
tissues, such as blood cells. Both
papers also showed that subsequent manipulation could further reprogram iPS
cells to a more embryonic-like state.
Several leading embryonic stem cell scientists have also noted that the
techniques are still being improved, and it is simply a matter of time until
these hurdles are overcome.
Regardless, this is still no justification
for further destruction of embryos, nor especially to justify cloning of human
embryos for experiments, which is what one paper seems to imply. While this is interesting in terms of basic
science, embryonic stem cells are poor substitutes for adult stem cells and the
current successful treatments that they are already delivering to thousands of
Prentice explains even more in a recent
blog post at FRC Blog.