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The Promise of Technology
Japanese Help End American Culture War

Japanese scientists have just announced what sounds like an exciting discovery: normal mice blood cells can be transformed into pluripotent (all-purpose) stem cells just by dipping them in acid. If this procedure translates readily to human cells, it could represent a leap forward for medicine—without the cultural controversies that human embryo-derived stem cells have generated:

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said if it also works in humans then “the age of personalised medicine would have finally arrived.”

He told the BBC: “I thought – ‘my God that’s a game changer!’ It’s a very exciting, but surprise, finding.

“It looks a bit too good to be true, but the number of experts who have reviewed and checked this, I’m sure that it is.

We don’t yet know if these results will transfer from mice to humans, but if they do, it will be a very promising advance in personalized medicine. And it will be very welcome indeed to see technological innovation helping us to put one front of the culture wars to bed.

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  • Corlyss

    I’m skeptical of Asian “advances” in cell therapy; there’s been too many instances of their lying and cooking their research books to produced sensational results that go *poof* under close scrutiny.

    • Kavanna

      True. However, it is also true that transforming placental and adult cells into stem cells has been confirmed many times around the world — it’s not new. So far, so good for therapeutic uses.

      But there’s still a justification for using fetal stem cells for research purposes, as long as abortion remains legal. Whether abortion should be legal is a different question. Science can inform the answer, but not decide the question.

      • Corlyss

        Absolutely. If the fetus is just going to be thrown away, it should be used for what good it can do.

  • free_agent

    It’s even better than that: You can make stem cells out of the patient’s cells, so there’s no transplantation-compatibility problem.

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