Embryonic stem cells, which can be used to create any type of cell in the human body, are still controversial, and rightly so the ethical concerns over using human embryos for research and medical purposes are clear to everyone. When the first skin cells were successfully turned into stem cells by scientists in 2007, those who were hoping for a non-embryonic alternative to stem cells breathed a sigh of relief. But those cells were still very much imperfect, and scientist have been hard at work to improve their methods ever since. This week, scientists announced progress with alternative methods of creating stem cells.
This is great news, embryos will no longer be needed for stem cells! The new cell reprogramming technique, which was developed by researchers from Boston, is said to be the first practical method of creating stem cells from non-embryonic sources. The new technique creates so-called iPS cells, an abbreviation for induced pluripotent stem cells, and has already received much praise from researchers around the world, totally unconnected to the study which was lead by researchers from Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. If this new stem cell technique truly works, medical professionals will be a step closer to curing diseases such as Parkinson's Disease and diabetes. And no human embryos will be lost in the process.
I'm happy about this piece of news, because I am opposed to using human embryos, which I think are a form of human life, for scientific or medical purposes. What are your opinions about this subject? Should embryos created through IVF ever be used for research purposes? If you had any left-over embryos after IVF, would you ever donate them to scientific research or would you prefer embryo adoption? We'd love to hear your opinions on this ever controversial subject. For more interesting scientific developments surrounding reproduction and fertility, also take a look at Can artificial ovaries help cancer patients get pregnant?