Skip to comments.Stem-Cell Trial a Victory for Science, and for Life
Posted on 06/28/2013 3:27:01 PM PDT by neverdem
The Japanese Health Ministry has approved the first human clinical trial involving induced pluripotent stem cells (know as iPSCs), which are taken from a patients epithelial tissue for use elsewhere in his body. The trial will remove skin cells from six adults who suffer from age-related macular degeneration; scientists at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe will then attempt to develop the cells into retinal tissue for transplant back to each patients eyes.
The outcome of the treatment is by no means assured; the trial will take four years to complete, and as the National Institutes of Health explain, the process of virally introducing the characteristics that return the cells to an undifferentiated state brings with it a significant risk of cancer. Nevertheless, the approval of the human clinical trial represents yet another advance for adult stem cells relative to their embryonic counterparts. Embryos used for scientific purposes end up being destroyed, a practice that raises serious ethical questions. Both adult stem cells (which are harvested from certain organs, including bone marrow) and iPSCs (which are usually taken from skin) have shown far greater promise than embryonic stem cells, as detailed in 2009 by the late Dr. Bernardine Healy, former health editor of U.S. News & World Report.
According to Agence France-Presse, project leader Masayo Takahashi told a Japanese newspaper, Because no one in the world has used iPS cells in a clinical trial, what we are doing will set the standard. Its a daunting prospect, but one that brings joy. Lovers of human life should share in the rejoicing, both for a promising treatment for those suffering, and for a technology that spares embryonic human life.
It makes so much sense to be able to use your own stem cells to heal your body. After all wouldn’t the use of another person/embryo’s stem cells require the life time use of rejection medications because of the use of a different dna? While use of your very own stem cells wouldn’t? This is a question I’ve wondered about. Anyone have the answer?
I heard about this trial a few days ago.
It makes complete sense to use a patient’s own cells to make replacement tissues.
But I wonder if the problem that led to the macular degeneration isn’t built right into the replacement tissues? I don’t know much about macular degeneration, but I always thought it was a genetic disease.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this works out.
It’s not the different DNA that causes rejection problems. Rejection is caused because the implanted cells have a different set of antigens (surface proteins) than the host cells. The host immune system recognizes those foreign antigens as invaders and attempts to destroy them.
Autologous stem cells (that is, made from the patient’s own body) will have the same antigens as the rest of the body, and will not trigger the rejection reactions.
I will be glad to explain further or answer any other questions.
As a general rule, if you don’t have perfect matches in any kind of transplantation, you’ll get either graft versus host disease or host versus graft disease if you don’t use immunosuppressant drugs.
Unless they can prove otherwise, any kind of human embryonic stem cell source for transplanting will need immunosuppressants.