Have advances in stem cell production rendered debates about them academic?

Have technological advances that gave us Induced Pluripotent Stem cells and now stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells rendered the debates about embryonic stem cells moot?


The GQ answer:

I’ll chime in since no one else answered. I’m not a medical doctor or stem cell expert, but I have studied and invested in a few companies working with stem cells. As far as I can tell, no domestic companies are using fetal stem cells or embryo-destroying stem cells any longer and haven’t for several years. Embryonic stem cells can be obtained from single cell biopsy without destroying the embryo, and these cells can be cloned. Adult stem cells are taken from blood, bone marrow, or fat tissue.

Most stem cell biotech companies are using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) aka adult stem cells . Although, these are not (yet) known to be as effective and potent as their human embryonic stem cell (hESC) counterparts. However, there was a recent article a few weeks ago that reported a breakthrough in mice with adult cells being broken down to a more primordial embrionic-like state using acidic solutions if I recall correctly.

Keep an eye on biotech companies such as Athersys (ATHX), Neostem (NBS), Advanced Cell Technology (ACTC), Neuralstem (CUR), and Osiris Therapeutics (OSIR) as they are conducting FDA approved trials (either at or approaching Phase II) on humans using stem cell treatments. Given the results of their early stage safety studies, it appears that ACTC may have found a cure for the most common form of blindness in the elderly, i.e. dry age-related macular degeneration. More results should be published later this year to confirm efficacy. CUR had some promising results in ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) patients, and I look forward to see results from the current trial.

Stem cells have the ability to regenerate tissue and could lead to new revolutionary treatments for many conditions. I anticipate more breakthroughs in 2014 and some stem cell based treatments could become commercially available within 5 years or so.

IMHO answer:

I doubt that ethical controversies will ever be totally muted due to stubbornness among certain groups and ignorance among the masses. Most or all of the arguments against stem cell treatments should be rendered moot by now IMHO.