'We didn’t really believe this would work, to begin with it was mostly just an interesting experiment to try. However, we soon saw that the cells were surprisingly receptive to instructions.'
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Research good news
I was interested to come across an article about research into the "direct conversion" of skin cells into nerve cells without the use of stem cells. The problem with the embryonic stem-cell route is the risk of the cells developing tumours. "In mid-August, the journal Nature published three separate papers describing methods for direct conversion of normal skin cells into nerve cells.... (In Sweden) Research leader Dr. Malin Parmar said he was surprised at how receptive the fibroblasts were to new instructions:
The Swedish team noted that using the direct conversion technique to bypass stem cells avoided the ethical problems inherent with embryonic stem cells, as well as the tendency of embryonic stem cells to form tumors. The paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." (from Life News)
The point of producing nerve cells is to help in researching diseases such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers, MS and MND, to see the causes and development of the diseases, which is turn leads to therapies. In my view not using embryonic stem-cells (i.e. derived from embryos with the potential for life) is entirely preferable. I don't want my cure to be at the expense of another's life.