Researchers around the world are spending enormous amounts of time and money looking for treatments and cures to various diseases like cancer and neurological conditions. Scientists aren’t ruling out any type of treatment to combat these deadly diseases including genetic therapy and the use of stem cells.
Last week scientists from Yale working with researchers from Asuragen, Inc. announced they found a treatment that has performed well in lab mice for treating lung cancer using micro RNA (miRNA). The miRNA used in the study is called let-7.
Let-7 has been found to be present in reduced amounts in cancerous lung tumors. The low concentrations of this let-7 miRNA are thought to contribute to the development of lung tumors. The work of the researchers has demonstrated that the miRNA inhibits the growth of lung tumors and cancer cells in culture and lab mice.
Senior study author Frank Slack said in a statement, “We believe this is the first report of a miRNA being used to a beneficial effect on any cancer, let alone lung cancers, the deadliest of all cancers worldwide.” The researchers believe that let-7 miRNA applied as a intranasal drug could be a viable treatment for lung cancer.
This breakthrough follows just hours after another group announced a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease, a fatal illness that currently has no treatment or cure. Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York have shown that cloned embryonic stem cells can be used to treat Parkinson’s like conditions in mice.
The researchers found that stem cells cloned from the mouse’s own body were less disruptive to its body that cloned cells taken from other mice. The researchers got the cloned embryonic stem cells by taking ordinary cells from the tail of the mouse and transferring the nuclei from the cells into hollowed out mouse egg cells, making clones of the mouse.
The embryonic stem cells were then harvested from the cloned embryos after a few days, coaxed into becoming the type of brain cells lost due to the chemicals used on the mouse to cause the Parkinson’s like state. Once the needed brain cells were grown they were implanted into the brain of the affected mouse. The mouse got better.
Reuters quotes researcher Viviane Tabar as saying, “It demonstrated what we suspected all along -- that genetically matched tissue works better. It's incredibly hard [growing and implanting the cells] and it involves a series of inefficient steps," Tabar said.
While considerable debate rages over the use of cloned embryonic stem cells, there is little doubt as to the ability of the stem cell to help treat a myriad of conditions and disease states. DailyTech reported in February 2008 that researchers used stem cells to treat diabetes in mice.