Tuesday, August 23, 2005


In a breakthrough that could one day bridge the present cultural divide, Harvard scientists have announced that they've discovered a way to fuse adult skin cells with embryonic stem cells. In essence, the researchers actually converted a skin cell into an embryonic stem cell. According to the scientists, the fused cell "was reprogrammed to its embryonic state."

The promising discovery could eventually lead to the creation of useful stem cells without the use of human embryos.

In a summary of their work, the Harvard team said they had created hybrid cells that "had the appearance, growth rate, and several key genetic characteristics of human embryonic cells."

"They also behaved like embryonic cells, differentiating into cells from each of the three main tissue types that form in a developing embryo."

If the research holds up, it could alleviate the current controversy over stem cell research.

Although researchers currently derive embryonic stem cells from embryos that would otherwise be destroyed at fertility clinics anyway, many Americans are still offended by the prospect. The practice is privately funded at present, but large and prestigious research centers are hoping to secure federal funding to help advance their efforts.

President Bush and many religious conservatives oppose taxpayer funded fund stem cell research that would destroy human embryos. Yet, next month the Senate will take up debate on an already passed House bill that would allow just such funding. That bill is widely expected to pass even with the threat of a Bush veto.

But the prospect of having one less thing to divide Americans is something to celebrate, and the benefits of such research has the potential to positively affect the lives of millions.

Copyright © 2005 The Independent Report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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