WASHINGTON - Cells taken from men’s testicles seem as versatile as the stem cells derived from embryos, researchers reported Wednesday.
The new cells could be useful for growing replacement tissues, according to a study in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature. But because of their source, their highest promise would apply to only half the world’s population: men.
Embryonic stem cells can give rise to virtually any tissue in the body and scientists believe they may offer treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes and for spinal cord injuries.
The testicular cells avoid the ethical dilemma of embryonic stem cells, which are harvested in a process that destroys the embryos. For that reason, many people, including President Bush, oppose their use.
Avoiding the ethical problem“The advantage these cells have in comparison to embryonic stem cells is that there is no ethical problem with these cells and that they are natural,” said study lead author Thomas Skutella, a professor at the Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine in Tuebingen, Germany.
Using testicular cells isn’t the only promising method that avoids embryos; recent studies also show promise for reprogramming ordinary body cells by slipping certain genes into them.
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