New Stem Cell Method Could Allay Ethics Concerns


There's new hope for people suffering with some of our most dreaded diseases. Scientists have discovered a surprising new method of turning ordinary cells into stem cells.

American and Japanese researchers found that by taking ordinary blood cells from the spleens of mice and exposing them to acidic liquids for 30 minutes, the cells reversed to their embryonic state and could be reprogrammed to grow into any type of tissue.

Researchers are now studying whether the technique works with human cells. If it does, there could be a fast, cheap, and ethical way to grow tissue to treat illnesses like diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or Huntington's Disease.

"I can't even stand still talking to you now. That's the disease," Michael Hinshaw, who has Huntington's disease, said.

There's even hope the process could restore a sense of touch to people with paralysis.

"Imagine not touching a child or a spouse - how devastating that would be," Dr. Samantha Butler, a UCLA stem cell researcher, said.

This new method of harvesting stem cells is good news for people with ethical concerns about getting them from human embryos.

But it raises new concerns it could open up a potential route for cloning people. Since stem cells have the ability to regenerate the body, that technology could theoretically be used in many ways.

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