Banning federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research would derail related work

Jun 09, 2011
Banning federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research would derail related work
Researchers analyzed more than 2,000 scientific papers and found adult stem cells are not replacing human embryonic stems cells in the laboratory. Instead, the two cell types have proven to be complementary. Credit: © 2011 JupiterImages Corporation

(PhysOrg.com) -- Banning federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research would have "disastrous consequences" on the study of a promising and increasingly popular new stem cell type that is not derived from human embryos, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.

Human induced pluripotent stem , known as iPS cells, are reprogrammed that display many of the most scientifically valuable properties of embryonic while enabling researchers to bypass embryos altogether. Scientists hope to harness the power of both cell types to understand and treat disease, and possibly to grow new tissues to replace diseased organs.

When they burst onto the scene in 2007, iPS cells were heralded by some as likely replacements for the controversial they mimic.

But a new analysis of more than 2,000 scientific papers by U-M sociologist Jason Owen-Smith and his colleagues finds that iPS cells are not replacing human embryonic stems cells in the laboratory. In fact, the two cell types have proven to be complementary, interdependent research tools, according to a commentary article scheduled for online publication June 9 in the journal Cell.

"The incentives to use both types of cell in comparative studies are high because the science behind iPS cells is still in its infancy," Owen-Smith said. "As a result, induced do not offer an easy solution to the difficult surrounding embryonic stem cell research."

Because use of the two cell types has become so intertwined, any federal policy that would deny funding for embryonic stem cell research "would derail work with a nascent and exciting technology," said Owen-Smith, who worked with colleagues at Stanford University and the Mayo Clinic.

In August 2010, a Washington, D.C.-based district judge, Royce Lamberth, ruled that for embryonic stem cell research is illegal because it violates a law that bans public spending on research in which are damaged or destroyed. Human embryonic stem cells are derived from days-old donated embryos left over from fertility treatments; the embryos are destroyed in the process.

On April 29, a federal appeals court blocked Lamberth's decision and ruled that federal financing of human embryonic stem cell research can continue, for now.

"We now have new data pointing to 'collateral damage' that could be caused by ill-conceived and politically motivated policy prescriptions," the authors of the Cell paper conclude. "According to the data presented here, an entirely new technology, forged out of the crucible of political controversy, is at risk."

Owen-Smith and his colleagues examined stem cell research papers published between 1998 and 2010. They found that the proportion of papers using iPS cells and human embryonic stem cells together is growing faster than those using iPS cells alone.

In 2008, only 5.1 percent (15) of all papers analyzed used induced pluripotent cell lines, and only three of those papers combined the use of iPS cells with human embryonic stem cells. By 2010, 28 percent (161 of 574) of the papers involved the use of iPS cell technologies, and 62.1 percent of those papers paired induced and embryonic cell lines.

Embryonic stem cells and iPS cells both display pluripotency, the ability to produce all the cell types in the adult body. In interviews conducted as part of the study, researchers said they often compared their iPS cells to human to verify that the iPS cells display all the characteristics of pluripotency.

"If federal funding stops for human embryonic , it would have a serious negative impact on iPS cell research," said Stanford University bioethicist Christopher Scott, one of the co-authors. "We may never be able to choose between iPS and ES cell research because we don't know which type of cell will be best for eventual therapies."

Explore further: Me, my neuroprocessor, and I: Preparing for a hybrid world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stem cell research puts interstate rivalry on hold

Sep 04, 2008

Victoria and New South Wales have put aside their competitive interstate rivalry to collaborate on a stem cell research project, as announced by Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings and NSW Minister for Science and Medical ...

Cells derived from different stem cells: Same or different?

May 02, 2011

There are two types of stem cell considered promising sources of cells for regenerative therapies: ES and iPS cells. Recent data indicate these cells are molecularly different, raising the possibility that cells derived from ...

Stem cells reverse disease in a model of Parkinson's disease

May 16, 2011

In a new study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers compared the ability of cells derived from different types of human stem cell to reverse disease in a rat model of Parkinson disease and id ...

Researchers Reprogram Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Jan 27, 2009

For the first time, UCLA researchers have reprogrammed human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into the cells that eventually become eggs and sperm, possibly opening the door for new treatments for infertility using patient-specific ...

Recommended for you

'Most famous wheat gene' found

Sep 15, 2014

Washington State University researchers have found "the most famous wheat gene," a reproductive traffic cop of sorts that can be used to transfer valuable genes from other plants to wheat.

Mosses survive climate catastrophes

Sep 15, 2014

Mosses have existed on Earth for more than 400 million years. During this period they survived many climate catastrophes that wiped out more robust organisms such as, for example, dinosaurs. Recently, British ...

Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

Sep 14, 2014

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered how two genes – Period and Cryptochrome – keep the circadian clocks in all human cells in time and in proper rhythm with the 24-hour day, as well ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Jun 09, 2011
Banning federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research would derail related work


Lets not worry about the fact that there is a law which prohibits federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. If you want to do something, you shouldn't let the law get in the way, should you?

You should worry about breaking the law, but when you can find a judge who will waive the law for you ...
ronaldk13
not rated yet Jun 09, 2011
Could we also pass laws to make sure no human sperm and eggs are used in research? While we're are it let's protect all cells and seeing as they are composed of atoms let's keep going.....
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 10, 2011
"Lets not worry about the fact that there is a law which prohibits federal funding for embryonic stem cell research." - Dogbert

Appeals Court OKs Fed Funding of Embryonic-Stem-Cell Research
April 29, 2011

You are behind the times Dogbert. It must be because of all that Mindless ConservaTard ranting you do.

Obama recended the BushTard's executive order that prevented federal funding for existing cell lines that were developed after some arbitrary date Bushie pulled out of his backside.

Science commends Obama for his decision.

dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Jun 10, 2011
Appeals Court OKs Fed Funding of Embryonic-Stem-Cell Research
April 29, 2011

You are behind the times Dogbert.


I am not behind the times. I recognize that the Appeals court decided that the law could be ignored. Courts have no constitutional authority to make law, but they do it with depressing frequency.

Obama recended the BushTard's executive order that prevented federal funding for existing cell lines that were developed after some arbitrary date Bushie pulled out of his backside.


When Bush directed that federal funds could be used for specific cell lines, he allowed federal funding for the first time. Until his intervention, all lines of embryo's were banned.

Science commends Obama for his decision.


Science is not an entity or other living creature. Science cannot commend anything.

ronaldk13
not rated yet Jun 10, 2011
Actually courts have every right to strike down laws . It's referred to as the checks and balances system, please take a moment to have a look at the Constitution, especially Articles 1, 2, and 3
Cheat sheet for you:
usconstitution.net/consttop_cnb.html
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 10, 2011
"I am not behind the times. I recognize that the Appeals court decided that the law could be ignored. Courts have no constitutional authority to make law, but they do it with depressing frequency." - Dogbert

It is the absolute right of the court to decide the applicability and legality of law as lawmakers are not bound to enact laws that are compatible with existing law.

Law 1. It is illegal to turn right on red.
Law 2. It is legal to turn right on red.

Both laws can be made official at the same time with a signature.

It is up to the court to decide which one to ignore.

You poor Conservatard. You whine about law and yet don't have a clue to how it actually works.

Such profound Conservative ignorance... Pathetic.