Penn advances stem cell research

    Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are working on a different kind of stem cell research, the kind that doesn’t attract the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell science.

    Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are working on a different kind of stem cell research, the kind that doesn’t attract the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell science.

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    At Penn’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine PhD. student Paul Esteso begins with ordinary human adult cells.

    Esteso: You can make skin cells, or practically any cell in the body, acquire most of the qualities of embryonic stem cells. So it makes these cells which were specified into a single cell type able to generate all the cells of the body, at least in culture.

    These new lab creations are called induced pluripotent stem cells.

    Unlike embryonic stem cell research, IPS technology does not require the destruction of human fertilized eggs. That makes the science exciting for many people who object to human embryonic stem cell research.

    Esteso’s basic science on adult stem cells is part of the search for therapies that may one day cure diabetes or treat Parkinson’s.

    Esteso: One of the problems I must say is that they have a high tendency to generate tumors, so that’s a problem clearly for therapeutic aspects.

    To get around that problem, Esteso is trying to push his adult cells back to an intermediary stage. He wants to make organ-specific cardiac cells with the potential to become contracting cells, vessel-making cells, or any one of the cells that make up the heart.

    Log on Friday for a feature report on the ways the stem cell debate and politics have converged in the presidential campaign.

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