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Stem cells from infants for research

  1. Feb 10, 2012 #1
    So we use stem cells from infants for research, but do they never take those stem cells and use it to treat people, is it not possible to make cells from other people live in your body? would your body reject and kill those cells?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2012 #2


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    Re: Stem cell question.

    Stem cells aren't taken from infants but harvested from embryos. These stem cells are desirable because they are pluripotent meaning they can give rise to any cell in an adult body. Downsides are that embryonic stem cells are always going to be in short supply because to get them you have to use discarded embryos from IVF treatments, you cannot fertilise a human egg for research.

    You do raise a good point about using cells already in the body. First thing to mention would be that we do have adult stem cells (adult in this context means anything after birth) which live in our bodies and naturally give rise to different cell types. The problem is adult stem cells are not pluripotent and can only give rise to a few cell types, locating a useful adult stem cell and using it is difficult but an active research goal. Secondly is a very exciting field of research into inducible pluripotent stem cells. iPSCs are normal cells that are "reprogrammed" into pluripotent stem cells. So far methods to do this are potentially dangerous because they involve inserting DNA sequences into the genomes and so could cause cancerous mutations (although in recent years advances are removing this problem
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7239/abs/nature07864.html). Also the methods are abysmally inefficient producing very low amounts of cells.

    However the field has great potential and is advancing along many different lines, for my money far better control of cell behaviour (tissue engineering) and reliable, efficient iPSC production will near-revolutionise medicine.
  4. Feb 17, 2012 #3
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  5. Feb 18, 2012 #4
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
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