if you build a better mouse…

Scientists are one step closer to creating on demand organs out of adult skin cells thanks to some very unusual clones of lab mice.
lab mouse

… biologists will beat a path to your door. Or at least, that’s what two teams of Chinese researchers might have thought when they grew several generations of mice using stem cells coaxed from normal skin cells and reprogrammed to differentiate into a fully functioning organism. Obviously, this is a huge leap forward for the use of stem cells in helping patients who need brand new organs and potential cancer treatments. Think of it as a proof of concept test which shows that stem cells could grow into a new liver or heart or kidney with the right approach. The work is still ongoing and the researchers are very cautious about applying the lessons learned to humans, but it does show that the possibility really is there.

But here’s the interesting bit. It seems that scientists think that because their method of obtaining stem cells doesn’t destroy a blastocyst, it would make the entire concept less controversial for groups which oppose stem cell research on emotional grounds

These type of stem cells generate less controversy than embryonic stem cells, which scientists have been studying for more than a decade. Embryonic stem cells involve the destruction of embryos, usually excess from fertility clinics.

Yes, they’re generating less controversy now because the anti-stem cell crowd hasn’t caught up with the research yet. What happens when you show that that an entire new organism can be grown from a few lowly skin cells? The same objections will be back in full force.

Rather than give you a new heart or re-grow the damaged bits of your spinal cord, opponents of stem cell research would rather see that embryonic stem cells die the natural way; disposed of by fertility clinics which judged them unsuitable through IVF. This is what they call protecting the sanctity of life and they consider it much more moral than letting doctors and biologists help people in need.

# science // biology / blastocyst / stem cells


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