SCIENCE

New Stem Cell Research Avoids Controversy

Stem cell research has long been a contentious issue because it required the destruction of human embryos. But experts have developed a new method of making stem cells known as iPS (induced pluripotent stem), which has fewer ethical complications and could potentially lead to groundbreaking treatments of illnesses. Paul Fairchild, co-director of the newly founded Oxford Stem Cell Institute, is bringing together 37 laboratories across 17 departments at the University of Oxford to conduct research and studies on these cells. First discovered by a Japanese scientist in 2007, the complicated iPS method works by taking a diseased person's skin cells implementing a batch of chemicals to regress them into iPS cells, which still mimic that person's genetic make-up. "We now have a way of taking them from that person and studying the cell type itself in vitro that will almost certainly have symptoms of the disease. It's possible to produce these models of human disease in vitro which we've never had access to before," Fairchild said.