Wednesday, April 19, 2006

CNN discusses stem cells

Ultimately it should be possible to use stem cells to replace any other cells in the body that have been damaged or harmed by accident and disease.

Of the difference between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells:

Adult stem cells have been used in therapy for a long time. The implementing ingredient in bone marrow transplantations, which have been used to treat certain blood cancers for more than 40 years is the small proportion of stem cells present.

Unfortunately, adults don't have a lot of stem cells available. And there's a difference between stem cells in adults and those in embryos just days old.

Alan Colman CEO of E.S. Cell International in Singapore explains that both embryonic and adult stem cells are important. "I think that we will find that each type of stem cell is good for some purposes and bad for others. Embryonic stem cells have the benefit that they can grow indefinitely in culture. Adult stem cells generally cannot do that."

"But on the other hand, adult stem cells," Colman says, "are nearer, if you like, to the end product than the embryonic stem cell. I think researchers should be backing both areas of research at the moment and the public also should support both types of research."

Colman says identifying the right stem cells and converting them properly to the cells you need are the first task. "Then we have to ensure that once transplanted the cell behaves properly and integrates with the neighboring cells and tissues and that it doesn't run amuck." At question is whether stem cells grown in a laboratory will "respond to the cues in the body that say enough is enough. Stop growing now, you are at the right number."

Of the Hwang matter-->

Another controversy involving stem cell research erupted last year when it was learned that South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk faked results in nine of the 11 stem cell lines he claimed to have created.

That news stunned scientists and those who follow stem cell research. Colman says the incident in South Korea "gives the impression that all scientists, working in what is already a controversial area, are similarly, if you like, scurrilous and prone to fraud."

Actually, I think it is more correct to say that Hwang did not create any of the eleven embryonic stem cell lines asserted in the 2005 paper in Science.

In January,2006, a university committee of SNU reported claims of Hwang and his team that they had cloned the first human embryonic stem cell line were fraudulent. The panel also confirmed an assertion by the team that it had created 11 stem cell lines was faked.


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