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A question on study of Adult Stem Cell

Two studies may form a tiresome feeling over visions of adult stem cells as a less honestly questionable but nearly equally versatile alternative to embryonic stem cells, whose ability to sprout different cell types has spawned debate between those who think such research destroys a life and those who say it has life-saving potential. The new findings challenge the notion adult stem cells taken from one tissue can directly produce cell types of other tissues and organs.// It may be that this capability, revealed in recent research, may arise from a process of fusion that combines two cells into one, and not from one cell changing into another type. Scientists said that such hybrids have double the normal DNA and possibly carry unknown health consequences.

Researchers feel that, whether the process, observed in mouse brain cells in laboratory experiments, also occurs in animals, including humans, remains to be seen. "This suggests a need for caution with regard to the therapeutic use of adult tissue stem cells. If they only make other tissues by fusing with existing cells rather than producing new cells, their utility for tissue repair and regenerative medicine will be greatly restricted," said Austin Smith of the University of Edinburgh in England, lead author of one of the papers.

"While there is justifiably a great deal of interest in the broader applicability of adult stem cells, our findings illustrate that we are currently very ignorant of their biology," Smith said. "It should be noted that although spontaneous cell fusion has been well documented and this work has been overlooked in the recent reports on tissue stem cells."

Studies have shown adult stem cells from one tissue, such as blood, can generate numerous other cell types, such as nerve and muscle, in a fashion reminiscent of embryonic stem cells but without the ethical concerns. These findings -- which the Nature papers now question -- have challenged the traditional v
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