Pro-Life Bioethicst Applauds Recent Advance Using iPS Cells to Treat ALS
by Steven Ertelt
August 4, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Dr. David Prentice, a Family Research Council fellow and former Indiana State University biology professor, is excited about the news that researchers at Harvard and Columbia have made advances dealing with ALS and stem cells without having to destroy human life.
The scientists were able to use a new technique to transform the skin cells of patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease into motor neurons.
"This is the first time any embryonic-type stem cell has been created directly from a patient," he explained.
"The iPS cell technology, developed by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, directly reprograms normal cells such as skin cells into an embryonic stem cell type, using the addition of 3-4 genes. No embryos, eggs, or cloning are used in the process," he said.
Prentice explains that, "The results of this study should put another nail in cloning’s coffin."
He noted that the New York Stem Cell Foundation, previously a die-hard supporter of cloning and very critical of iPS cells, wasted no time in trumpeting their "critical funding role" in the new study.
Despite the good news, Prentice said this isn’t the first instance of a patient-specific stem cell line.
"That honor belongs to the Australian group led by Professor Alan Mackay-Sim of Griffith University, that already made patient-specific and disease-specific stem cell lines," he said.
Prentice concludes: "So the current iPS cell result is a nice advance, but it’s not the first evidence of patient-specific or disease-specific stem cells, and certainly not the best."
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