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You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette

Scientists recently discovered how to revert the skin cells of a mouse back into embryonic stem cells – a breakthrough that they are hopeful will someday be applicable to humans as well; this discovery is also significant because it avoids the ethical minefield of using fertilized embryos.

The process that the scientists used is actually really interesting: They inserted a specially modified virus into a mouse skin cell. The virus activated four dormant genes in the cell’s DNA, turning it into an embryonic stem cell. All cells contain the genetic information to turn themselves back into stem cells, so theoretically, all one would have to do to make this workable for humans is identify the genes and create a similar virus.

Coincidently, the scientists released their findings just as Congress was set to vote on easing restrictions on stem cell research. Opponents of current stem cell research were no doubt happy with the news, but scientists warned that applying these new techniques to humans could be years away. The research team also urged Congress to expand federal funding for stem cell research, which it did, passing the bill by a House vote of 247-146.

All is not well, though. President Bush, a really scientifical kind of guy, has vowed to veto the bill, saying it “crosses a moral line.” Congress doesn’t have the votes to overturn the veto. It’s kind of ironic that these new techniques to create stem cells, which pro-lifers are going to use as ammunition against the bill, probably wouldn’t have been possible without all the previous research done with fertilized embryos. That’s the pro-life movement for you, though. Scientific method? Bah!

  1. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Actually, I think Frohnmayer just issued a press release claiming Harbaugh is a seven-eyed, six-legged monster … who’s still bitter about the diversity plan.

  2. Miles says:

    It was the first department that came to mind at the moment, because I was looking at details involving a possible move of the Economics department into Peterson after it gets renovated.

  3. Timothy says:

    Right, yes, insult the most libertarian department on campus. Way to be, Miles, way to be.

  4. Miles says:

    No, that’s just the Economics department in PLC.

  5. Jake says:

    This all sounds like a bad science fiction movie. Scientists create a virus that reverts skin cells to stem cells, but then the virus escapes the lab. Then everyone starts to generate stem cells on their body and they start growing extra limbs. Pretty soon Earth is a waste land of seven-eyed, six-legged monsters.

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