' News of the Day #448 - Pluripotent stem cells made from skin

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Pluripotent stem cells made from skin

President Bush has again vetoed a bill that would have forced Americans to pay for research on embryonic stem cells, and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) have added less comprehensive embryonic stem-cell research funding to an appropriations bill.

Meanwhile, disruptive technology could lead to the mothballing of therapeutic cloning before it ever produces a single cure. A Japanese team at Kyoto University has discovered how to reprogram skin fibroblasts so that they dedifferentiate into pluripotential cells. This circumvents both the rejection problem and the problem of destroying human embryos or of turning women into battery hens for their eggs.

“Neither eggs nor embryos are necessary. I’ve never worked with either,” states Shinya Yamanaka.

Researchers introduced four transcription factors into mice skin cells, using retroviruses (Nature Reviews: Molecular Cell Biology, July 2007). The race is underway to apply the technique to human cells.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emmanuel told the U.S. House of Representatives: “It is ironic that every time we vote on this legislation, all of sudden there is a major scientific discovery that basically says, ‘You don’t have to do [embryonic] stem cell research.’”

Michael Cook, editor of the international bioethics newsletter BioEdge, writes: “Connect the dots, Mr. Emmanuel. Maybe you don’t have to (TCSDaily 6/19/07).

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