Stem Cell Breakthrough Spares Embryos

Technique sidesteps both ethical and technical difficulties
By Sophie Goldstein,  Newser User
Posted Jun 6, 2007 5:48 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Normal skin cells can be transformed into the equivalent of stem cells in mice, researchers report, and the new technique may revolutionize research on humans. Because it doesn't involve embryos or eggs, the process skirts the ethical quagmires surrounding human stem cell research; the easy availability of raw material and relative simplicity of the technique are logistical pluses.

American and Japanese researchers working in three independent groups treated skin cells from mature mice with specific genes, returning them to a malleable embryonic-type state. Researchers cautioned that human treatments aren't close, but enthusiasm is high: One scientist who wasn't involved in the experiments compared to accomplishment to the creation of Dolly, the first cloned mammal.