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Stem Cell Research? A Breakthrough!

Updated on January 21, 2012
These are embryonic stem cells, taken from embryos, which have caused much controversy.
These are embryonic stem cells, taken from embryos, which have caused much controversy.

The Past Problem with Stem-Cell Research

Stem-cell research has generated lots of controversy due to the fact that stem cells were harvested from embryos. In fact, our former president put a stop to the research, which many thought was critical mistake since so much hope has been put on stem cells and their ability to cure disease.

Dr. Derrick Rossi, Harvard Medical School, has now reported that his team of researchers have found a way of turning skin cells into those that closely resemble embryonic stem cells--along with muscle cells.

The study was published in the journal, Cell Stem Cell.

The new technology uses skin to create stem cells!
The new technology uses skin to create stem cells!

Stem Cells From Skin: More Good News!

Previously, researchers who tried to turn cells into stem cells, would use a virus to carry the new genes into the cells in an attempt to make them mimic stem cells. However, this therapy often caused unwanted side effects like tumors.

So Rossi decided to use RNA to transport the genes to the cells and it worked--without the side effects! (Messenger RNA does not stay long in the cell, therefore averting the problems of causing disease, etc.)

These cells, made from skin, are used to form beating heart cells and nerve cells and even muscle cells! Furthermore, this technology may enable doctors to replace organs and repair injuries.

Creating stem cells from skin is a major scientific breakthrough!
Creating stem cells from skin is a major scientific breakthrough!

Not To Be Confused With Embryonic Stem Cells...

Researchers make the point that the new stem-cell research is not to be confused with embryonic stem cell research, which is a horse of a different color. Scientists agree that there are many types of stem-cell research and each of them must be given the consideration they deserve.

However, no one can doubt that this opens the door to a more positive outlook, since embryonic stem-cell research has caused so much controversy. With this type of stem-cell development, human skin is used--and the person's own skin at that!

Although scientists agree that this new research is far from fruition, it is a breakthrough that we should all be aware of and not overlooked!

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