The debate has been spurred over the years about whether it is immoral to use embryonic cells for research, causing people from all walks of life to debate the topic and become emotionally charged. Findings in the science community, however, have made it likely that researchers are able to make, both easier and faster, patient-specific embryonic-like stem cells from reprogrammed adult blood cells, called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, revolutionizing the stem cell scientific world.
The process by which biologists take adult cells and reprogram them has led to the potential for scientists to model a patient’s disease in laboratory conditions and replicate a healthy cell and tissue which matches the patients immunology, and effectively fight the afflicted disease. In addition, they have developed a way to, instead of performing an invasive skin biopsy, use blood from a blood draw.
Last year saw the first reported generation of these IPS cells taken from human blood. The donor’s however were treated with cytokines, which did not come without side effects. Most of the subjects experienced symptoms that would be comparable to flu-like in nature. There have been replicated studies that have all produced the same results. The ability to extract the cells from human blood over the skin biopsy is believed to be a huge step in the advancement of stem cell replication.
Without the controversy surrounding embryonic cells, the science is one that is exciting and really offers some potential to diseased patients from all specialities. With the addition of the procedure coming at no cost to the patient, it is an exciting new advancement with the potential to save a vast amount of human lives.