Tuesday, scientists are calling a new stem cell discovery a magnificent achievement.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found a way to essentially turn back the clock on adult stem cells so that they behave like an embryo, but with no embryos involved. The value of embryonic stem cells is that they can divide forever and can form anything in the body, which is not the case in adult stem cells.
"To take a handful of factors and put them into adult tissue and covert them back into the embryonic state is extremely exciting." "This is technology that can be done literally in thousands of laboratories, which is the beauty of this." said Dr. John Gearhart of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Scientists have learned to re-program adult stem cells so that they too could be used to create patient-specific stem cell lines. This could treat Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and diabetes, among other diseases.
The study in the Journal Nature says there are still some major kinks that need to be worked out. For one, there are concerns this new method could lead to the overgrowth of certain cells which could lead to tumors.
If the problems are resolved, this new procedure could put an end to ethical issues about stem cell research.