Is this the answer we’ve been looking for? An uncontroversial way to grow cells that can turn into anything piece of tissue we want?
In a surprising advance that could sidestep the ethical debates surrounding stem cell biology, researchers have come much closer to a major goal of regenerative medicine, the conversion of a patientÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s cells into specialized tissues that might replace those lost to disease.
The advance is an easy-to-use technique for reprogramming a skin cell of a mouse back to the embryonic state. Embryonic cells can be induced in the laboratory to develop into many of the bodyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s major tissues.
If the technique can be adapted to human cells, researchers could use a patientÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s skin cells to generate new heart, liver or kidney cells that might be transplantable and would not be rejected by the patientÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s immune system. But scientists say they cannot predict when they can overcome the considerable problems in adapting the method to human cells.
And there’s the rub. Who knows how easy this will be to do for humans. Quite possibly extremely difficult.
And so we wait…and wait…and…