Bioethics Expert Advises Caution for Pro-life Endorsement of iPS Stem Cell Breakthrough

MARCH 9, 2009 ( - A new method of creating embryonic-like stem cells from ordinary skin cells is being lauded as the solution to the embryo research problem, but one prominent bioethicist has cautioned that there may still be unseen ethical problems and is urging caution.

**"Often tests are performed on the resulting iPS cells using ‘DNA chips’, which contain human genes originally derived from human embryos and human foetuses. **

When Yamanaka and Thompson made the iPS breakthrough in 2007, much of the news media reported that it would mean an end of the use of embryos in stem cell research. But Dr. Thomson himself admitted that embryos had been instrumental to the advancement of his work.

He told MSNBC, "In our research, we actually used human embryonic stem cells as part of the screening process. So the research itself on human embryonic stem cells led to the next finding about pluripotent cells."

Looks like the entire process of discovering the genes used to program IPS cells came directly from embryonic stem cells. That means that reprogramming cells into IPS actually uses ESC derivatives, and taints the entire process of creation, useage, and screening.

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