Artificially Created Stem Cells Cure Sickle Cell in Mice
December 8, 2007 7:25 PM
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To cure sickle cell in mice just add skin -- no embryos necessary
has long covered developments in stem cell research -- everything from using the stem cells in practical medical research to creation
printable blood vessels
to using the cells in more outlandish experiments such as
the human-sheep "chimaera,"
which sounds like something straight out of
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Most importantly new research
allowed for the creation of pseudo-stem-cells from somatic (differentiated) cells
, via an induction process. The research was first pioneered by Japanese scientists and later confirmed by American researchers at
Whitehead Medical Center in Massachusetts. This new non-embryonic technique has the reluctant blessing of traditional stem cell opponents, including U.S. President George W. Bush and the Catholic Church.
The cells are dubbed induced Pluripotent Stem cells, iPS cells for short. Last month it was shown that the cells could be created as easily from human skin tissue as mouse skin tissue. Further, the research showed that the iPS cells behaved like true stem cells and could differentiate into the more than 200 types of cells in the human body.
Now scientists have
completed groundbreaking research
which gives an exciting glimpse into the tremendous potential the synthetic creation of stem cells can hold. Researchers at Whitehead have used the artificially created stem cells, created from mouse skin tissue, to cure mice of sickle cell anemia, a potentially fatal inherited disease. The research is published in the journal
and is titled
Treatment of Sickle Cell Anemia Mouse Model with iPS Cells Generated from Autologous Skin."
sounds so good that many might wonder why the scientists at Whitehead are not rushing to put the process to work curing human disease. The reason for Whitehead's reluctance is that they are trying to change aspects of their creation approach in order to make it human safe. Researchers currently utilize genetically modified viruses in the induction process. The viruses have the potential to trigger tumor growth in healthy mammalian tissues.
"The big issue is how to replace these viruses", commented Rudolf Jaenisch co-leader of the research at Whitehead, in
The current treatment method uses multiple rounds of viruses to modify genetic behavior of the cells. The first round of gene-modified viruses induces the cells to behave like stem cells. Next the scientists used a gene splicing technique to snip out the undesirable sickle-cell gene and replace it with a healthy gene. Finally the scientists used an additional round of viruses which induced the cell to develop into a bone marrow cell.
The marrow cells were injected into the mice with sickle-cell and anchored in the bone marrow and began to release healthy red blood cells.
"All the parameters we can measure are now normal," Jaenisch enthused. "The mice are cured."
Hopefully the researchers can modify the technique to avoid tumor induction as the potential of curing sickle-cell disease would help save many human lives. In humans sometimes sickle cell is treated by a bone marrow transplant, but only 20% of humans have a donor close enough to them to allow for a safe transplant. And over 20% of those who do receive transplants experience failure, often resulting in death. However, bone marrow created from a modified version of this process would be completely safe as the cells are genetically identical to the donor.
In the mice radiation was used to kill the bone marrow of the mice, but in humans chemotherapy drugs such as Idarubicin and Cytarabin can be used to kill the bone marrow in a less caustic manner. In mice 80 percent of the marrow cells now are the genetically healthy cells and they have experienced no tumor growth.
George Q. Daley, a stem cell researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, said the test was proof that human clinical applications of iPS cells were feasible. He said, "There will be lots of unanticipated setbacks before we end up in the clinic, but this work suggests that we will ultimately get there."
Jaenisch surprised some by emphasizing that despite his group's success, research on embryonic stem cells should be pushed ahead, not halted.
"All the progress in this field was only possible because we had embryonic stem cells to work with first. We need to make more ES cells and really define which are going to be the best ones for different applications," he said.
Regardless, for stem cell proponents and opponents alike, this new research demonstrates a exciting process that may someday hold the cure for human diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, Parkinson's Disease and diabetes.
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RE: Differences in Stem Cell Research/Treatment
12/10/2007 1:04:41 PM
I would of rated you up, except for this quote "Bush and the Roman Catholic Church support progress, not an expedition to nowhere that along the way kills people in the name of atheism. Moreover, you should note that this is not just a religious issue. It is a moral issue which means it involves atheists too."
First, you say embryonic is done in the name of Atheism, which it isn't. But then you say it isn't just religious, but moral, so it involves atheists.
Atheism, versus any religion is a religious issue. The only issues that they have with each other is the belief in a deity. Subsequently, the belief in a deity has nothing to do with your moral character. There are tons of criminals that are both religious and atheist, as well as vice versa. Pro life atheists, and pro choice, same for any other religion. Believing in a deity does not actually mean you will obey the laws, or adhere to the beliefs of that religion.
RE: Differences in Stem Cell Research/Treatment
12/10/2007 4:43:28 PM
What I'm saying is those who actually respect their authority, namely the ones who follow the teachings of the Pope, are against embryonic stem cell research. The only logical defence against the Church is that the soul does not exist sense even believing it exists would bring up the question of when it is instated. It is unknown and therefore one must not try to guess and therefore must call life to begin at conception.
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