Isn’t science grand?
Imagine my delight when I read about a method of stem cell research that has the potential to prevent animal testing.
For all the controversy about embryonic stem cell research there is a refined method discovered by professors Jamie Thomson of the University of Wisconsin and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan, that enables researchers to take adult skin tissue and manipulate it into versatile properties of embryonic stem (ES) cells. The process is called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS.)
Professor Thomson believes iPS cells are more valuable as laboratory models for studying disease and testing drugs as opposed to growing replacement tissue and organs for transplantation.
Theoretically, this sounds like a great compromise in the debate between right and left wing views toward research using embryonic stem cells, but in reality iPS has not shown reliable results. Charles Q. Choi reports in Scientific American, abnormalities have been found with the iPS cells. The cause is hypothesized to be as a result of the viruses used to create them. Viruses can potentially make iPS cells age and die abnormally, limiting efficacy results.
But researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered a potentially more reliable supply of iPS cells in something many of us have too much of … adipose fat cells! The team found fat cells are more efficient than skin cells in turning back into stem cells.
No joking – wouldn’t it be great to use fat liposuctioned out of human patients as the building blocks for research? This could free animals from being tortured in the name of scientific research to benefit humans!
The cruel and sadistic methods used on animals in what has been termed “medical research” are well documented.
Maybe one day science will advance to the ethical practices of researching human medicine with only human cells and leave animals to the lives they were born for…
Against testing on animals? Add your name to help pass the Great Ape Protection Act.
photo credit: thanks to [niv] via flickr