'Something positive for humankind': Girls lend cells to genetic study


At 15, Hayley Mogul lacks the fine motor skills needed to write. Her sister Bari is 9 and still eating baby food.
There’s no cure for their rare disorders, caused by unique genetic mutations. But for once, there’s an advantage to having conditions so rare that drug companies cannot even think of looking for a cure. The sisters are taking part in a whole new kind of experiment in which scientists are literally turning back the clock on their cells.
They’re using an experimental technique to transform the cells into embryonic form, and then growing these baby cells in lab dishes.

The goal is the get the cells to misfire in the lab in just the same way they are in Hayley’s and Bari’s bodies. It’s a new marriage of genetics and stem cell research, and represents one of the most promising applications of so-called pluripotent stem cells.


Does this sound immoral to anyone else since they are using embryonic cells?


From the article:

“In recent years, scientists have learned how to take ordinary cells from a grown person and reprogram them to look and act precisely like embryonic stem cells. They’re called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells.”

I’m assuming using these cells isn’t immoral since they aren’t actual embryonic stem cells and are created from regular ones; I could be wrong though. As with all advancements in science, we pray that it will be used ethically and for good cause.


I agree that this would probably come under adult stem cell research. The cells are obtained from adults, and are merely subject to chemical / genetic modification to make them capable of wider transformation. If the “transformed” cells were, in themselves, capable of life when implanted in utero, only then would it be immoral. Or so it seems to me.


I don’t think this is immoral.


That is my understanding, as well. I think the NBC News article doesn’t make clear that IPS cells are adult stem cells. No embryo is involved, and one of the advantages of IPS cells is that they may eventually remove the need to use embryonic stem cells.

The reporter claims that embryonic stem cell research is no longer controversial. I disagree with that. She also claims that IPS cells look and act precisely like embryonic stem cells. I think that is an overstatement. Although IPS cells and embryonic stem cells act in very similar ways, there is a possibility that a clinically significant difference may exist. More research is needed, but the possibility of such a difference is a major reason that embryonic stem cell research is still ongoing.


It sounds the same as what they do with cord blood. I have given both of my children’s cord blood to stem cell research. I’d rather have them use that than kill a baby for it.


Sounds fine to me, as long as the donors aren’t subjected to pain to obtain these cells, since I don’t think they are likely capable of consenting to that. There is no loss of life here though, so I don’t see any problem.


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