Skip to comments.Stem-Cell Cures Without the Controversy
Posted on 12/08/2012 9:49:01 PM PST by neverdem
The chief medical ambition of those who study stem cells has always been that the cells would be used to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. That's still a long way off, despite rapid progress exemplified by the presentation of the Nobel Prize next week to Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University for a key stem-cell breakthrough. But there's another, less well known application of stem cells that is already delivering results: disease modeling.
Dr. Yamanaka used a retrovirus to insert four genes into a mouse cell to return it to a "pluripotent" statecapable of turning into almost any kind of cell. Last month a team at Johns Hopkins University and the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, using a version of Dr. Yamanaka's technique, successfully grew nerve cells from a patient suffering from a rare disease called Riley-Day syndrome, which is linked to early mortality, seizures and other symptoms and caused by a fault in one gene.
But the purpose was not to put these cells back into the patient. Instead the scientists tested 6,912 chemical compounds on the cells to see if they could find one that "rescued" the "expression" of the gene: that is to say, caused it to produce the protein it is supposed to produce. One of the compounds worked, inducing the gene to be actively transcribed by the cell.
In the not-very-distant future, when something is going wrong in one of your organs, one treatment may be to create some stem cells from your body in the laboratory, turn them into cells of that organ, or even rudimentary structures, and then subject them to experimental treatments to see if something cures the problem. The goal of personalized medicine, in other words, may be reached by stem-cell researchers before it's reached by geneticists.
Further breakthroughs are coming thick...
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
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My wife underwent successful cancer treatments using her own stem cells. Otherwise, I may have never understood the difference.
Also needs to differentiate adult stem cells, which are taken from a matching, consenting adult donor via a simple process similar to donating any other specific component of blood. Quite ethical, useful, and safe.