Our understanding and use of stem cells have come a long way in a very short time. It used to be that adult stem cells were believed to be only capable of differentiating into certain types of cells (ex. Bone marrow cells) and embryonic stem cells were the only way we could generate any type of cell from. Now, after years of research, scientists have discovered ways to revert adult stem cells to have the differentiating abilities that embryonic stem cells were hypothesised to have. This has brought a huge difference to the stem cell research field. (thanks to it the ethical issue of embryonic stem cell research is no longer a problem)
Stem cell research holds immense potential as a source of cure for many diseases and disorders which are incurable today. However, because not enough is known about the technology currently, I think that more research must be done before the technology is applied to medical cures to avoid side effects that might show up.
News that Chinese researchers have succeeded in growing healthy living mice from mouse skin cells takes scientists a significant step closer to human cloning, experts say, and is thus likely to...
Jooyeon Cho's insight:
The idea of cloning has been a worrisome topic for many. As research in stem cells brings us closer to achieving the ability to “clone”, the fear rises once again. The idea of abuse and misuse causes the world to watch the development of stem cell technology nervously. The article also quotes scientist Kathrin Plath, who isn’t at a supportive stance to the research because many mice from past cloning trials had either died shortly after birth or suffered from genetic abnormalities.
The article talks about the success of a group of Chinese scientists in growing a full, healthy mouse from the skin cells, using the iPSC technology. Since this article was written in 2009, the iPSC technology was still unrefined with sporadic outcomes.
The men's work found that adult cells can be returned to their stem cell state, a discovery that undercuts the utilitarian embryonic stem cell research and use (a little poetic that the prize was awarded during this year's "40 Days for Life".) The...
This blog blurb talks about the Nobel Prize winning adult stem cell technology, the iPSC. However, the blogger touches on the subject of ethics rather than the technical issues to the technology. Christians strongly oppose of the embryonic stem cell research because of how it requires a “child’s life” to be sacrificed. Some also oppose the research because it defies the boundaries of god’s area of work (i.e. Human creation). That is why the journalist sees the new iPSC technology as a positive breakthrough which will help mankind find the key to curing debilitating diseases while protecting unborn life.
This article covers the issue of “hype” over the stem cell technology. This hype has been seen in the past with other discoveries like the gene therapy. Hype over a medical discovery/technology has the potential to be very dangerous. The article states that although the US and Canada have somewhat of a restrictive stem cell research environment, it is much less regulated in other areas of the world. Many companies offer treatment using stem cell technology even though it has not yet been researched enough to be released to patients. Thus the hype lures patients into an expensive and possibly harmful research/treatment. The article emphasises how crucial it is to know of the potential dangers and risks that the technology holds before using it and states that it has a “striking ability to grow into tumors”.
This article shows a direct example of what the article above was worried about. The article is about a patient who received stem cell based face lift using her own adult stem cells and ended up having pieces of bones develop in her eyelids and surrounding eye area. Such unexpected side effects can come with many stem cell based treatments and products that have not been approved of by official administration. The article also talks about the “legal grey areas” that many cosmetic products use to attract consumers.
Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin — a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons — and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis...
This article is about human neural stem cell transplants that were done on the brains of 4 boys with rare, fatal brain conditions. The transplant was a success and has shown to improve the conditions of the boys. This transplant shows the potential that stem cell therapy holds and how it could vastly advance medical treatments.
A detailed article about the iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells) technology.
What is iPSC?
To simply put, the iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cell) is a type of stem cell (typically adult stem cell) which has been modified to be pluripotent and thus satisfy all the potential/theoretical advantages of the embryonic stem cell while using the more ethical adult stem cell technology. It can be said that the somatic cells have been reprogrammed back into the embryonic state.
Resistance to chemotherapy is a frequent and devastating phenomenon that occurs in cancer patients during certain treatments. Unfortunately, tumors that initially respond to chemotherapy eventually become resistant to it, contributing to tumor progression and death. The study reveals that these new cancer “stem” cells, which have not been differentiated into more specific cell types, are capable of multiplying despite being exposed to chemotherapy, while differentiated cells die.
Led by Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD, Chair of Pathology, and Josep Domingo-Domenech, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology at Mount Sinai, the research team generated cellular models of drug resistance by treating prostate tumor cell lines with increasing doses of the common chemotherapy drugs, including docetaxel. They identified a cell population expressing markers of embryonic development. In addition, these cells displayed cancer stem cell functions, including the capacity to initiate tumor cell growth. Next, the team evaluated human tissue samples of prostate cancer and found that patients with more aggressive or metastatic tumors had more of these cancer “stem” cells.
The study also defines a new therapeutic strategy for patients with prostate cancer, consisting of a combination of standard chemotherapy and two pharmacological agents that inhibit key signaling pathways associated with embryonic development and cell differentiation. Results showed that chemotherapy eliminated differentiated tumor cells, whereas the signaling pathway inhibitors selectively depleted the cancer stem cell population. Some of these inhibitors are already in clinical trials, and some are FDA-approved.
By studying stem cells and getting to know how they work better, scientists were able to discover how we can use the acquired information to diagnose and treat illnesses. This article is about a new discovery of a subpopulation of cancer stem cell like cells which will lead to development of new tests allowing early cancer diagnosis, prognostic tests and new therapeutic strategies.
LONDON (Reuters) - Ten international drug companies are to team up with scientists from 11 European countries to create a bank of stem cells for a project aimed at speeding up the development of new medicines.StemBANCC, coordinated by Swiss...
Jooyeon Cho's insight:
This article is about the European stem cell bank, a project in which 10 international drug companies are teaming up with scientists from 11 European countries to speed up the development of new medicine technology by utilizing stem cell samples from patients with certain types of diseases and disorders. The direct access to cell samples of patients is expected to be extremely helpful to the scientists. The group will mainly be focusing on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, peripheral nervous system disorders, central nervous system disorders, and neurodysfunctional conditions. This wide range of research shows the potential medicinal power of the iPSC technology.
This article covers the legal regulations and governance over stem cell research in Canada and the US. The writer talks about the different types of regulations and bills which have been in place and although the page which is linked in the article is out of date, talks about the most current regulations regarding the stem cell research. Canada’s Institutes of Health Research has the guidelines for human pleuripotent stem cell research (last updated in 2010) on the government website.
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