According to a Washington Post article, scientists have figured out how to turn one type of adult stem cell into another. What makes this development even more interesting is that it wasn’t done in a petri dish – this change was created inside of a living animal.
This breakthrough will potentially lead to cures for currently un-fixable illnesses and injuries such as spinal cord injuries (SCI) while bypassing the ethical objections that are now hindering stem cell research.
Research on mice by Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) co-director Douglas A. Melton, and colleagues, found three molecular switches that were able to turn a common cell in the pancreas into one that can produce insulin. This has the potential to benefit people suffering from diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses.
Imagine being able to cure your illness or heal your body through the flip of a cell switch – a process that would save both time and money that is currently spent on drugs and other ongoing therapies.
“I see no moral problem in this basic technique,” said Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a leading opponent of embryonic stems cell research. “This is a ‘win-win’ situation for medicine and ethics.”
While researchers warn that “many years of research lay ahead” before they will be able to prove that this innovation will be of use for curing disease and injuries, it is another big step made by science towards creating health and longevity.
As of today this study hasn’t been posted on the HSCI Website, but for those interested, hereis the HSCI list of research projects.
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