It’s far too early to put all eggs in reprogramming basket
Although stem cell research changed forever after Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka revealed that he had produced pluripotent cells from skin cells in November, some American researchers refuse to give up their work on therapeutic cloning. It’s far too early to jump ship, they say. It would be "A very foolish and maybe tragic bet," says Konrad Hochedlinger, of Massachusetts General Hospital; "folly", says Christopher Scott, of Stanford University; "grossly irresponsible", says Ronald M Green, of Dartmouth College.
Worldwide, fewer than 10 research centres are actively involved in therapeutic cloning. And now, since creating reprogrammed cells and obtaining funding for them are so much easier, labs everywhere are switching over. But at Harvard, reports the Boston Globe, two prominent researchers are sticking with therapeutic cloning.
"For doing basic research on human cells, IPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) as a method has won – it’s huge," said Dr. George Q. Daley. "But for the ultimate goal of getting cells into a patient, it’s a lot less clear. These cells may never be useful for direct therapy." In fact, Harvard is pressing ahead "full-throttle" with cloning. Scientists there doubt that IPS cells will ever be approved by regulatory authorities for treating humans because they are reprogrammed with retroviruses which could make the cells cancerous. "There is a core of scientists, myself included, who deeply believe this [therapeutic cloning] is an ethical and highly valuable area of research," Daley says. ~ Boston Globe, Dec 17
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