Scientists Explore Testicular Stem Cell Alternative

The cells appear as useful and avoid ethical dilemma
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 8, 2008 2:58 PM CDT
A researcher holds small test tubes filled with stem cells stored at a lab of the Sao Paulo University Human Genome Research Center in Sao Paulo, Monday, March 3, 2008. Brazilian church officials urged...   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
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(Newser) – Cells taken from human testicles seem as versatile as stem cells derived from embryos, researchers reported today in Nature. The new type of stem cells could be useful for growing personalized replacement tissues to treat diseases like Parkinson's and diabetes and for spinal cord injuries. But because of their source, they would help only half the world's population: men.

The testicular cells avoid the ethical dilemma of embryonic stem cells, which are harvested in a process that destroys the embryos. The new findings "take some pressure off the stem cell issue," the White House science adviser said. One stem cell scientist called the idea exciting but said it leaves "women without as easy a method." There also have been experiments in reprogramming ordinary body cells by slipping certain genes into them.