It appears that the next breakthrough in stem cell research is here. Scientists have successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, which can then turn into any type of cell in the body. This process uses the same methods involved in cloning, and takes several steps to complete. First, the DNA is removed from an unfertilized egg cell. The skin cell nucleus is then implanted into the unfertilized egg cell. At this point, a chemical reaction is used in order to get the cells to fuse together and begin developing. Then embryonic cells then begin to divide and become stem cells, which are clones of the person’s cells from which the original skin cell came from. The stem cells can then be used to create the necessary cells for the heart, nerves, or liver. The end goal is to successfully transplant these healthy cells into the original patient.
However, the same stem cell controversy that has been around for years is likely to be revived again with this new breakthrough. The first issue has to do with human cloning. The researchers of this latest breakthrough claim that their process does not allow for full human cloning, but won’t specifically say how. Many people fear that this is one step closer and that someone will eventually find a way to do it as progress is made. The other issue is that obtaining the stem cells requires destruction of the embryo, which is essentially murder for those who believe in life at conception. Scientists will continue to work hard to solve these problems, and it will require numerous amounts of testing before a final conclusion can be reached.
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