Cells taken from men's testicles appear to be as versatile as those taken from embryos, researchers announced on Wednesday. The cells can be used for growing personalized replacement tissues.
The study appears in Thursday's issue of Nature. While the cell research is promising it would only help half of the population. Men would be the only ones who will benefit from the new tissues due to the source.
Embryonic stem cells can be used to grow virtually any tissue in the body. Scientists believe that in time they will be the basis of treatment for spinal cord injuries and diseases like diabetes.
Testicular cells take away the issues of ethics when it comes to stem cell research. Because of the way embryonic stem cells are harvested the fetuses is killed in the process. That is the root that many people
debate the ethical question of where to draw the line because of religious and other beliefs.
"The advantage these cells have in comparison to embryonic stem cells is that there is no ethical problem with these cells and that they are natural," said study lead author Thomas Skutella, a professor at the Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine in Tuebingen, Germany.
Testicular cells aren't the only ones that are showing promising results for researchers. There has been some progress using ordinary body cells and turning them into stem cells by slipping genes inside of them.
The new findings are exciting but they are no help for women. There is thought that female egg cells could also be used but that again brings an ethics question into play.
The research is still years away from practical use but each new step brings scientists closer to curing and treating diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries.