Stem Cells and Diabetes

stemcellThis article talks about how Harvard scientists took skin cells, applied a virus with a concoction of genes and got the cells to revert back to stem cells. These stem cells were then ‘programmed’ to become beta cells, the cells which are attacked by the immune system to cause Type 1 diabetes. This research, along with this, provide the most hope for those suffering with diabetes since the invention of the insulin pump in the 1960s. The reason I’m posting this is because of a quote out of Nature “Legal wrangling has followed in Europe over the patenting of the oncomouse…and Astrid the Pig, a pig reared with organs designed for use in human transplants.” (Coates, 179). That passage made me wonder, if this procedure were used, would that mean that the company/doctors who developed the procedure would be entitled to claim ownership of the transplanted beta cells? Although it is unlikely that the scenario would pan out this way, there are some serious legal and ethical implications and it will be interesting to see how they unfold in the future. By the way, the first medically available insulin was taken from a pig in 1921 in Toronto.

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