22. August 2005 · Comments Off on Captain General De Leon, Your Fountain Is Ready · Categories: Science!

Some interesting developments in stem cell research:

The technique uses laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells — such as the ones that President Bush has already approved for use by federally funded researchers — to “reprogram” the genes in a person’s skin cell, turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell itself.

The approach — details of which are to be published this week in the journal Science but were made public on the journal’s Web site yesterday — is still in an early stage of development. But if further studies confirm its usefulness, it could offer an end run around the heated social and religious debate that has for years overshadowed the field of human embryonic stem cell research.

Since the new stem cells in this technique are essentially rejuvenated versions of a person’s own skin cells, the DNA in those new stem cells matches the DNA of the person who provided the skin cells. In theory at least, that means that any tissues grown from those newly minted stem cells could be transplanted into the person to treat a disease without much risk that they would be rejected, because they would constitute an exact genetic match.

All fanciful speculation about a fountain of youth aside, this is exciting enough on its own.

Hat Tip: InstaPundit

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