Japanese 'breakthrough' in stem cells / Send in the clones

Japanese researchers may have stumbled on a quick and easy way to create stem cells - expose adult (rodent) blood cells to a low-level acid bath.

nhs.uk/news/2014/01January/...

If replicable in humans then it could be the stuff of Nobel Prizes. If not, expensive dead end.

But it does hold out the possibility of making human cloning a reality - could rich people end up cloning a copy of themselves to harvest spare organs?

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  • The exciting thing about this technique is how (relatively) simple it is. While it may open the door to mass human cloning you would still need to find the women/wombs to do the rest of the job so it would be far easier and quicker to be able to use the cells directly rather than wasting time making a whole person. If this really does work in humans you don't need to grow a whole new organ anyway, the cells could be used to repair damage in situ.

    Given that this works best in cells from new borns - I wonder how long it will be until there are companies charging new parents vast amounts of money to transform and bank their babies cells (as currently happens with cord blood)?

  • Human cloning is a reality, at least on paper - from the science point of view, we are not more complicated than a sheep. But I think like a lot of things that seem huge and mad it will probably never take off.

    Apart from nervousness from politicians, I think there will continue to be huge unease from the general public and then, finally and most important there will be the "what's the point?" aspect - which is the biggest killer of ideas.

    But that is not what this is really about - there are a lot of uses for stem cells, but production is so controversial that it has been a bit of a barrier to further research uses. In the long term, this will, with any luck, just ease that side of things a bit.

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