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Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 19;155(2):114-21. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-155-2-201107190-00007.

Will cell reprogramming resolve the embryonic stem cell controversy? A narrative review.

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Centenary Institute, University of Sydney, and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


In the past few years, relatively straightforward laboratory techniques have been developed to reprogram normal body cells to enter an embryonic stem cell-like state. Not only do these induced pluripotent stem cells hold great medical promise--perhaps greater than that of embryonic stem cells--but they also have escaped the ethical controversy in which the latter is mired. This article examines how cell reprogramming is likely to transform regenerative and reproductive medicine and highlights some of the medical, moral, and political hurdles that it faces. It also argues that induced pluripotent stem cells are more ethically problematic than most people believe and that cell reprogramming will not solve the stem cell controversy but complicate it further.

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