This subject reminds me of Christopher Reeve, the former Hollywood actor who became an adviser on stem cell research, claiming scientists were on a brink of a major breakthrough using embryo stem cells. Some friends of mine hated the fact that Bush refused to endorse and fund embryo stem cell research using new embryo stem cells rather than a few existing ones. This is why hype in scientific research must be met with caution rather than making it political. The Hwang scandal in 2004, bares this out as well! Years later, all that hype was not justified! Similar to many claims about evolution! They figured evolutionary explanations about the past had so much success in keeping in the box, why couldn’t embryo stem cell research?
Adult stem cell research has grown by leaps and bounds, destroying such arguments made by the former adviser on stem cell research, Christopher Reeve and political figures like John Kerry. If scientists decided to stay in the box with Reeve and Kerry’s ideals on stem cell research along with other scientists, then two years later Yamanaka’s breakthrough with reprogramming adult stem cells wouldn’t have never happened! A year later Scientific American reported…
“The end of the politically explosive, decadelong ethical battle over human embryonic stem cells may finally be in sight. Two groups of researchers report today that washing human skin cells in similar cocktails of four genes enabled them to reprogram the cells to resemble those harvested from embryos. The finding potentially paves the way for scores of labs to generate new stem cell lines without cloned embryos, which had long been considered the only realistic way of making human stem cells in the short run.”
No embryos required! Imagine that, only two years later after Kerry’s speech about Reeve. Other Adult stem research as discussed in this blog, became the year’s breakthrough in science. But reprogramming adult stem cells didn’t put itself in a box, rather scientists have now discovered another new method. And that method is using “stress”, although stress is not good for the heart, it’s good for reprogramming stem cells, says Sasai and Obokata, two Japanese researchers who used a modest acid bath to create stress with the most fit animal on the planet who can survive extreme conditions and that is the bacterium. Once exposed to the acid bath, the bacterium’s cells revert back to the embryonic stage but even more so than using Yamanaka’s method.
Using a stress method is logical, especially knowing that the body is able to repair damage tissue. Regenerative medicine has a ways to go but is showing tremendous progress outside of the politically correct box!