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Second Yamanaka study and UCLA study used aborted fetal and embryonic stem cells
February 20, 2008
By Debra L. Vinnedge
In November 2007, separate scientific studies by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka and Dr James Thomson claimed to end the moral debate on embryonic stem cell research. Both scientists introduced genes into adult stem cells through a lentivirus, which reprogrammed them to become “embryonic” or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, without destroying human embryos. However, an inherent problem of embryonic stem cells is their propensity to form cancerous tumors and the reprogrammed iPS cells proved to be no different. Scientists believed they would eventually get around that problem.
On February 14th and 15th, two more studies were published on reprogramming adult stem cells: the first by UCLA’s Dr Kathrin Plath using neonatal foreskin cells; the second by Dr Yamanaka, using mouse liver and stomach cells, in which he claimed to overcome the problem of tumor formation. Unfortunately pro-lifers have hailed their work as a moral victory prematurely, because like the November studies, both researchers used aborted fetal and embryonic stem cells in the reprogramming method.
As in his first study, Dr Yamanaka used PLAT-E cells in the lentivirus for reprogramming mouse liver and stomach cells. PLAT-E cells are a derivative of HEK (human embryonic kidney) 293, obtained from an electively aborted baby.
In the UCLA study, Dr Kathrin Plath used Phoenix-A aborted fetal cell line in her lentivirus and then cultured the reprogrammed foreskin cells on embryonic stem cells. However, non-objectionable animal, synthetic or ethically obtained human cells could have been used to produce the DNA needed for transformation quite efficiently. Likewise, Plath’s use of embryonic stem cells as a culture medium was unwarranted, though most likely an attractive choice considering the extensive funding UCLA receives for embryonic stem cell research. Such cell lines are plentiful in her labs.
Still the question remains, why are we trying to transform a perfectly good adult cell into a carcinogenic embryonic stem cell fraught with ethical and medical problems in the first place, when adult stem cells have already proven clinical success in over 3500 patients? For the answer, all one needs to do is follow the money, the patents and especially, the politics.
Dr Yamanaka, Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells From Adult Human Fibroblasts By Defined Factors http://images.cell.com/images/Edimages/Cell/IEPs/3661.pdf
Dr James Thomson, Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Lines Derived From Human Somatic Cells, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1151526
Dr Kathrin Plath, Generation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells From Dermal Fibroblasts
Published online on February 15, 2008, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0711983105
Dr Yamanaka, Generation of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Adult Mouse Liver and Stomach Cells