Friday, July 24, 2009
ScienceNow: Embryonic Stem Cell Substitute Passes Acid Test, by Gretchen Vogel:
Scientists have for the first time demonstrated that a possible
alternative to controversial embryonic stem (ES) cells shares one of
their key abilities. So-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can
generate a live mouse in an experiment scientists say is the gold
standard for pluripotency, the ability to become any cell type in the
body. The feat, performed by two independent groups, suggests that iPS
cells may be as powerful as ES cells, which many scientists hope will
someday help cure a variety of diseases.
ES cells are prized by scientists for their flexibility. Taken from
early embryos, they can in theory develop into all the tissues of the
body. This talent makes them useful for studying--and perhaps someday
treating--diseases. But because isolating ES cells involves destroying
an embryo, they have proved ethically and politically controversial.
Many researchers believe iPS cells offer the best hope as an alternative....