Johns Hopkins scientists have developed a reliable method to turn the clock back on blood cells, restoring them to a primitive stem cell state from which they can then develop into any other type of cell in the body. […]
[Elias Zambidis, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of oncology and pediatrics] says his team has managed to develop a “super efficient, virus-free” way to make iPS cells, overcoming a persistent difficulty for scientists working with these cells in the laboratory. Generally, out of hundreds of blood cells, only one or two might turn into iPS cells. Using Zambidis’ method, 50 to 60 percent of blood cells were engineered into iPS cells. […]
Zambidis’ team also found a way around the use of viruses to convert the cells to a stem cell state. Traditionally, scientists use viruses to deliver a package of genes to cells to turn on processes that convert the cells from one type (such as skin or blood) back to stem cell states. However, viruses used in this way can mutate genes and initiate cancers in newly transformed cells. To insert the genes without using a virus, Zambidis’ team uses plasmids, rings of DNA that replicate briefly inside cells and then degrade. The blood cells were also given an additional new step in which they were stimulated with their natural bone-marrow environment. […]
This is an advance that i would imagine anyone being able to support. Scientists and doctors see the possibility of a reliable method of using a person’s blood to create stem cells for treatment of disease without running the risk of rejection. Evangelical Christians – or others who may think that a fertilized egg deserves the same Constitutional rights as a living, breathing person – can rest easy knowing that there are no precious snowflakes being harmed in the making (or reversion) of these stem cells.
I suppose, in a way, we have fundamentalists to thank for making these kinds of developments happen more frequently. Maybe if there weren’t such a push for establishing personhood from embryos on down to spots of post-coital slurry, we would have spent more time focusing on embryonic stem cells and not made this discovery for another few years.
Sadly, I know little more than what I just read about the topic. I’m not a biologist, so I have to take these kinds of stories at face value knowing that I could be misinterpreting them to some degree. Nevertheless, it comforts me to see the advancement of modern medicine get to the point where we may, one day, be able to create a “personalized” therapy program in which stem cells created from our own bodies can be used to heal us.
I certainly hope it happens soon; I intend to live forever.