One of the greatest advancements in science this year, if not thee best advancement for 2008, is reprogramming stem cells.
A young boy who has a genetic disease was the subject of the latest research which was published in the journal Nature on December 21, 2008. Using a relatively simple skin biopsy from the 3 year old boy.
“The UW scientists used the reprogramming technique pioneered last year by their UW colleague James Thomson and by Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan, and sent the boy’s skin cells back to the embryonic state. They then grew the reprogrammed cells into motor neurons, the type damaged by the disease.”
“The Nature paper, a collaboration by seven scientists including Thomson, did include a cautionary note: More work must be done, the authors wrote, “to ensure that reprogramming has not subtly affected the ability of the motor neurons to function normally.”
“Even more promising, though further off, is the possibility that scientists will be able to reprogram the cells of a child with spinal muscular atrophy, correct the genetic defect, then produce healthy motor neurons. The healthy motor neurons could then be injected back into the patient without any danger of rejection.” -JSOnline
Out of all this excitement in the progress of this research, I’m sorry to tell you that the little boy who had contributed to this very important scientific research that someday may help others in the future, had passed away at the age of three years old.
I will be stressing like crazy how it’s way more important to reprogram adult stem cells than to use unethically collected embryonic stems cells.
Here is the a list of some (not all) of the many other promising benefits from adult stem cell research include…
1) Brain Cancer 2) Skin Cancer: Merkel Cell Carcinoma 3) Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 4) Neuroblastoma 5) Corneal regeneration 6) Stroke Damage 7) Chronic Liver Failure and Retinoblastoma
On the other hand, the negatives includes the hype on embryo research has frustrated some experts in the field…
“Colin McGuckin, professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University and an expert in adult stem cells, this week hit out at both his university and UK funding agencies. He said that they were prioritising embryonic stem-cell research above work with adult stem cells, despite the more immediate clinical benefits offered by his work.”
That’s generally what happens when medicine becomes too political and special interests including the liberal side of the scientific community only have one interest.
In conclusion, nothing in evolution has helped the current progress of reprogramming adult cells. The research as shown above gets overlooked so funding is not at the level it would be. No doubt, more promising future treatments, and studies coming from adult stems cells, so stay tuned!