Despite the ethical and political differences they incite, stem cells are still a miraculous medicine, potentially able to change into whatever a sick body needs them to be. If we could get around the controversies behind them, theoretically, the problems would be gone. Johns Hopkins scientists are making progress there, creating them from a non-controversial supply of something we have in bulk: adult
It's not impossible for us to turn white blood cells into stem cells already: Viruses can be harnessed to set the clock back on the cells by delivering genes to them, but that can come with complications, like mutated genes or cancer. Instead, this technique (just published in PLoS One uses plasmids, DNA rings that replicate inside cells, then degrade. By jolting the cells with an electrical pulse, researchers created tiny holes holes in the cells that the plasmids could slip through. The plasmids then inserted genes that cause the white blood cells to change to induced-pluripotent stem cells, or iPS--embryonic-like cells that act as if they were part of a 6-day-old embryo. Unlike other processes, the cells were also introduced into a simulated version of the bone marrow environment they're usually in.
Early reports from the researchers say it's been successful. Usually, scientists might be able to eke out a handful of usable stem cells out of hundreds. The Johns Hopkins team has reported that their process can make up to 50 or 60 percent of them usable, without introducing viruses.
But the next step for the researchers is the important test: checking the sturdiness of the cells by seeing what they can develop into after the stem cell phase.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the cells as red blood cells; they are a type of white cell.
This sounds like a promising solution that can make most everybody happy while at the same time opening the door to what might be a much cheaper and more plentiful supply of stem cells than we had access to previously. Hope it works out.
YEA, for medical science! COOL BEANS!
Wait a minute, are they using RED BLOOD CELLS? Erythrocytes? I don't think that is right.
This article is a misinterpretation of the PloS one paper and scientific fact.
Adult red blood cells are devoid of a nucleus, which means that they cannot be reprogrammed by the method described (cellular reprogramming).
In fact, the finding reported in this paper is that scientists were able to reprogram the precursors to red blood cells (myeloid progenitors, which still have a nucleus) to become embryonic stem cell-like.
had to subscribe just to comment on this:
Ok. They are not coming from red blood cells, that wouldn't be possible there is no DNA in a mammalian erythrocyte. They were using lineage committed myloid cells, myloid progenators that are 'nearly' a certain cell type based on the proteins on the surface of the cell, [Not Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSC) aka hemocytoblast, which which are multipotent stem cells], to generate 'mutation free' Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (hiPSC)which are not limited to a particular cell line and are what everyone in the media usually is talking about when they use the term 'stem cell'.
In other words park et al. are using blood cells but they are not Erythrocytes (red blood cells).
"If we could get around that, theoretically, the problems would be gone"
Yeah and in countries that do not object to using embryos, they have it all working because of course that is the only problem.
Really?? Wow. I quick trip over to Wikipedia would have saved you the embarrassment of this article dear Colin Lecher! What my fellow commenters have stated about the impossibility of using erythrocytes as a source of pluripotent stem cells is absolutely correct. You need a nucleus to differentiate!!
"The only way to get them is from actual embryos."- WRONG!! One example of another place to find stem cells is in adult bone marrow.
Finally if one is inducing pluripotency... aka turning adult cells into stem cells, this does not qualify them as "embryonic stem cells". Although pluripotent cells may have a similar capacity for differentiation, this does not mean that they are identical to stem cells from an embryo.
Please read more than just the abstract when you are researching for an article!!
Who says we need to "get around that"? The only reason embryonic stem cell research is prohibited is that the religious wackjobs don't like people thinking about when life begins.
Why are we still fretting over stem cells? Human embryos are not the only place that stem cells occur. In fact, by the time most humans are aborted (yes, I said humans and not fetus), their cells have lost totipotency. So why are we still mentioning harvesting the bodies of the youngest of us for profit and gain?
" stem cells are still a miraculous medicine, potentially able to change into whatever a sick body needs them to be. The only way to get them, though, is from actual embryos"
This was a most ridiculous statement and a lie.
I am so amazed! How many of you will be sending your resumes to work with the Johns Hopkins scientists?
Gosh, you guys are such smarties...
Robot you don't have to be a genius to have payed attention in high school biology. This article is clearly a regurgitation from someone who did not know what they were eating in the first place.
On a competely different side note, when I first saw the picture in this article, I thought I was looking pool of kisses in dark chocolate, lol. ;)