An award worthy innovation: Reprogramming Adult Cells

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Speaking of  award-worthy innovations, per the post below on The Scientist's new project to name the top 10 life science innovations of 2008, check out the Harvard Stem Cell Institute's recent work.  They have developed a way to transform “one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research,” reports the Washington Post. A few good quotes related to the new development:

  • “It’s kind of an extreme makeover of a cell,” said Douglas A. Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, who led the research. “The goal is to create cells that are missing or defective in people. It’s very exciting.”
  • “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.”

Scientists and field researchers report being stunned from the new development:

  • “I’m stunned,” said Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., a developer of stem cell therapies. “It introduces a whole new paradigm for treating disease.”

Melton projects that studies involving diabetic patients could take shape within the year and that human trials could start within five.  It is hoped that spinal cord injuries and Lou Gehrig's disease, among others, may benefit from the new innovation as well. Three cheers from the bioethicist, Go Biotech, Go Science, Way to Heal, Treat and Save the World Responsibly! (for further reading see www.bioethicsinternational.org)