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December 22, 2006

Advances in Ethical Stem Cell Research

Topics: Stem Cells

Advances in adult and cord stem cell based therapy continue to make the news:

Johns Hopkins scientists have successfully grown large numbers of stem cells taken from adult pigs' healthy heart tissue and used the cells to repair some of the tissue damage done to those organs by lab-induced heart attacks. Pigs' hearts closely resemble those of humans, making them a useful model in such research

New nerve cells generated in the brain of adult rats that had suffered an epileptic seizure show a reduced excitability. The discovery could help to alleviate the disorder, according to new research from a team at Lund University in Sweden.

Nerve cells generated from stem cells in an adult diseased and damaged brain function as normal nerve cells. The new cells also seem to counteract the effects of the disease. These findings, by EuroStemCell researchers at Lund University in Sweden, are published in the journal Neuron this week.

A team from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has applied for a patent on their work to isolate, grow and identify a new and readily-available type of adult stem cell that is found in the bulge of hair follicles, and appears to have a potential for diversification similar to that of embryonic stem cells.

This story about a Mumbai toddler treated by stem cell therapy provides some good news about a baby girl treated for a heart condition with her father's blood stem cells.

British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant. .... the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

UCSF scientists have determined that adult stem cells in a specific region of the mouse brain have a built-in mechanism that allows the cells to participate in the repair and remodeling of damaged tissue in the region.

As the cells are also present in the human brain, the same capacity or potential may exist in humans, the researchers say. If they do, it is possible that the cells' behavior could be enhanced to treat tissues damaged throughout the brain by disorders such as stroke and traumatic injury.
Wesely Smith comments,
There is great hope that a robust regenerative medicine sector can be developed for the alleviation of human suffering without having to resort to unethical means such as human cloning.
Alicia Colon, at the end of an excellent column, writes,
But even if embryonic stem cells did provide a cure for my diabetes, the price of an innocent life is too much for me to pay.
Finally, remember to take the great stem cell quiz.

Posted by tim at December 22, 2006 3:01 PM

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