Cell transformation

Once again, news reports are showing that using human embryonic stem cells for research is not only immoral, but perhaps scientifically unnecessary. An article in the science journal Nature reports that ordinary pancreas cells in adult mice have been transformed into cells that produce insulin. Here are the first few paragraphs from an article on Yahoo news:

Talk about an extreme makeover: Scientists have transformed one type of cell into another in living mice, a big step toward the goal of growing replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases.

The cell identity switch turned ordinary pancreas cells into the rarer type that churns out insulin, essential for preventing diabetes. But its implications go beyond diabetes to a host of possibilities, scientists said.

It’s the second advance in about a year that suggests that someday doctors might be able to use a patient’s own cells to treat disease or injury without turning to stem cells taken from embryos.

The advantages of using a patient’s own cells, rather than cells from an embryo, are numerous. Not only do we avoid the ethical problems of destroying a human embryo, the genetic match is perfect. We can be thankful for this type of research.

Grace and Peace

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