Ethical path to artificial stem cell technology

The following is an edited excerpt.

Australian research has created a molecular roadmap that shows how any cell in the human body can be turned into artificial stem cells.

Dr Jose Polo, formerly of Harvard University and now head of Monash University’s reprogramming and epigenetics laboratory, said the use of these reprogrammed cells – pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells – has practical advantages over those harvested from embryos.

”If you have a disease caused by a specific mutation, say in the brain, obviously we can’t do research on your brain. But we can take a cell of your skin, reprogram it into an iPS cell, and then make neurons [brain cells] in the labs,” Dr Polo said. ”This means we’re going to study your exact mutation in the dish.”

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