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Two Major Studies Show: Human Pluripotent Stem Cells without Cloning or Destroying Embryo
Date:11/20/2007

are obtained from a simple skin biopsy, 1/10th inch in diameter and about as painful as a blood draw. One study was able to produce an average of 10 pluripotent stem cell lines from a single skin biopsy. This approach can be used to generate stem cell lines from patients with specific genetic diseases to better study these conditions, and to provide patient-specific stem cells for possible stem cell therapies.

Direct reprogramming of human cells is one of the most significant scientific findings of the last quarter century; more significant than cloning Dolly the sheep. Indeed, the scientist who originally cloned Dolly, Professor Ian Wilmut, recently stated that direct reprogramming is "extremely exciting and astonishing", a scientific approach he finds "100 times more interesting" than cloning--so much more interesting that he will abandon cloning research and pursue direct reprogramming instead.

The power of direct reprogramming is that, like cloning, it generates stem cells that are genetically identical to the patient who donated the adult cells. Reprogrammed cells would not be rejected by the patient's immune system if used for medical therapies. Unlike human cloning, which has thus far not been accomplished and remains only a theoretical possibility, iPSCs have been generated by two independent laboratories, making patient-specific pluripotent stem cells a reality today. Also unlike cloning, no eggs are needed for the iPS procedure and no human embryos are produced or destroyed, thus resolving major ethical and practical difficulties associated with the cloning procedure. Thus, on both ethical and practical grounds, direct programming is superior to cloning as a means of obtaining patient-specific pluripotent stem cells.

A fuller version of this analysis can be found online at http://www.stemcellresearch.org/statement/pptalkingpointsweb.pdf
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SOURCE Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics
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