Human Skin Stem Cells Treating Various Disorders

What is a stem cell? It’s basically a “blank” cell, which is capable of becoming other cell types like muscle cells or nerve cells or even skin cells. Adult stem cells can become a built-in repair system for the human body, replenishing other cells as long as a person remains alive!

This research has become more important in recent years than ever before for treating various diseases and disorders! Speaking of which, there has been exciting news coming out with reprogramming skin cells for new treatments!

Science Daily writes…

“The study is the first successful attempt to employ human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to produce a population of cells that are critical to neural signaling in the brain. In this instance, the researchers utilized cells crafted from human skin and transplanted them into animal models of myelin disease.”

“This study strongly supports the utility of hiPSCs as a feasible and effective source of cells to treat myelin disorders,” said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. “In fact, it appears that cells derived from this source are at least as effective as those created using embryonic or tissue-specific stem cells.”

“The discovery opens the door to potential new treatments using hiPSC-derived cells for a range of neurological diseases characterized by the loss of a specific cell population in the central nervous system called myelin…”

There was great hype with embryonic stem cells with the claim that scientists think human embryonic stem cells could lead to cures for many ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, some forms of blindness and possibly cancer. However, as science progresses, adult stem cells can replace embryonic ones and be even more effective. For instance, using one’s own stem cells from their own body for treatment lessens the odds greatly of rejection! Also, there is not controversy by destroying another human in the process!

Adult stems cells are in abundance! They can be collected from various  pregnancy-related tissues, and body tissues where they can be also reprogrammed as you seen in this article to the embryonic stage! How exciting is that? :)

Has The Assumption Of A Unique Genome Been Overthrown

Consensus in the scientific community told us that every cell in our body has a copy of our unique genetic code.  It is an interesting proposal but practically impossible to verify with current technology until now. There has been advances in sequencing technology taking place which make it possible to check this assumption.

Researchers studying induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s) (adult stem cells reprogrammed back to embyro stem cells used for medical treatments) have discovered copy number variations (CNV) in cells derived from skin cells. Most assumed these changes occurred in the process of inducing them to the pluripotent state but Yale researchers checking to see whether CNV’s are also found in the somatic cells from which the iPSC’s were derived.

Their paper published in nature says…

“Using PCR and digital droplet PCR, we show that at least 50% of those CNVs are present as low-frequency somatic genomic variants in parental fibroblasts (that is, the fibroblasts from which each corresponding human iPSC line is derived), and are manifested in iPSC lines owing to their clonal origin. Hence, reprogramming does not necessarily lead to de novo CNVs in iPSCs, because most of the line-manifested CNVs reflect somatic mosaicism in the human skin….”

“Overall, we estimate that approximately 30% of the fibroblast cells have somatic CNVs in their genomes, suggesting widespread somatic mosaicism in the human body. Our study paves the way to understanding the fundamental question of the extent to which cells of the human body normally acquire structural alterations in their DNA post-zygotically.” 

What do they mean by “Somatic mosaicism? It’s basically jargon telling you that genomes differ from cell to cell! But not only in copy number variations (CNV’s), but they discovered it in single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s) also. The long held assumption about you having only one genome is thus falsified. This discovery is telling us we have numerous genomes!

How is this going to affect genetics and evolutionary studies? Ever since the Human Genome Project published its epochal map of “the human genome,” there have been maps of other animals including chimps. But from what we know now about genome variations do those maps reflect reality in nature and are these maps depended upon which somatic cell was sequenced?

Geneticists have been aware of variations between individuals of a species which is why various ethic groups have been included in studies but this new discovery is finding significant variation within an individual’s own cells! It is not known at this time on how significant these changes are considering their study was based only on skin cells. But it is quite possible this could be a game changer…

“The prevailing wisdom has been that every cell in the body contains identical DNA. However, a new study of stem cells derived from the skin has found that genetic variations are widespread in the body’s tissues, a finding with profound implications for genetic screening, according to Yale School of Medicine researchers.”

As far as the story of evolution, it has been claimed for years about small differences between human and chimpanzee genomes. What if the percent difference is a function of the source cells used? If there is a difference then that means any conclusions about human-chimp similarities would prove unreliable. Which cells should be averaged? Will the averages converge or diverge, depending on which cells are selected? Philosophers of science can have fun with this one!

Creationists have taken some of the claims about evolutionary similarities and differences based on genetics with a grain of salt and now this belief has been confirmed by this scientific study! This is going to be one of the more interesting areas in science!

Breaking News: Stem Cell Research

Adult stem cell research is providing opportunities to treat people with a various  diseases and conditions.  In 2010, a man’s ankle refused to heal so the doctor took  bone marrow from the man’s pelvic bone with a needle, condensed it to about four teaspoons of rich red liquid, and injected that into his ankle. Four months later, the ankle was healed!

Since 2000, there has been great controversy over stem cell research namely embryonic stem cells which is mainly left-wing  ideology that blamed former President Bush for denying treatments rather than where the science goes. Embryonic stem cells are taken from a developing embryo at the blastocyst stage, destroying the embryo, a developing human life.

Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are found in all tissues of the growing human being and, according to latest reports, also have the potential to transform themselves into practically all other cell types, or revert to being stem cells with greater reproductive capacity.  Here is some of the latest research concerning stem cells…

How often have you donated or seen money raised for muscular dystrophy? Has there been any progress recently? Well yes there has been!

In phys.org…

“The research, published today in Cell Stem Cell, outlines the strategy for the development of a rapidly dividing population of skeletal myogenic progenitor cells (muscle-forming cells) derived from induced pluripotent (iPS) cells. iPS cells have all of the potential of embryonic stem (ES) cells, but are derived by reprogramming skin cells. They can be patient-specific, which renders them unlikely to be rejected, and do not involve the destruction of embryos.”

“Upon transplantation into mice suffering from muscular dystrophy, human skeletal myogenic progenitor cells provided both extensive and long-term muscle regeneration which resulted in improved muscle function,” the article said.

In North Carolina  School of Medicine, they had discovered that embryonic stem cells will commit suicide rather than risk DNA damage! Bax is a protein that is responsible for causing cell death.

In phys.org…

“Of all the important things our bodies’ cells do, staying alive is clearly key. But a cell’s ability to die when something goes wrong is equally critical. For example, a faulty self-destruct button is one factor that allows cancer cells to proliferate unchecked and cause tumors.”

“Deshmukh and his colleagues discovered stem cells are extremely sensitive to DNA damage, which can be caused by factors like chemicals, radiation or viruses. The experiment showed that virtually 100 percent of human embryonic stem cells treated with a DNA-damaging drug killed themselves within 5 hours, as compared to 24 hours for other types of cells.”

There had been concerned over iPS stem cells but techniques for inducing pluripotent stem cells from tissues (iPS) continue to improve.

“Our results show that human iPS cells accrue genetic changes at about the same rate as any replicating cells, which we don’t feel is a cause for concern,” says Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and oncology, and a member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.

“Each time a cell divides, it has the chance to make errors and incorporate new genetic changes in its DNA, Cheng explains. Some genetic changes can be harmless, but others can lead to changes in cell behavior that may lead to disease and, in the worst case, to cancer.”

Great research continues to progress with adult stem cells, the craziness of promoting ES back in 2000 to the present day were wrong.  If If iPS cells or other adult stem cells do better with fewer problems and no moral concerns, why is there a dispute?

Adult Stem Cell Research Continues To Progress

The number one breakthrough in science of 2009, continues its amazing progress in 2011 with promising treatments with no ethical questions like embryonic stem cell research. A breakthrough in fighting lung disease, physorg reports on how Duke scientists discovered a signal used by airway stem cells that regulate which tissues are produced.

“Our work has identified the Notch signaling pathway as a central regulatory ‘switch’ that controls the differentiation of airway basal stem cells,” said Jason Rock, Ph.D., lead author and postdoctoral researcher in Brigid Hogan’s cell biology laboratory.”

“Studies like ours will enhance efforts to develop effective genetic, cellular, and molecular therapies for airway diseases – a leading cause of death worldwide. Interestingly, the press release likened the Notch signalling pathway to “executive software” governing the stem cells’ fate.”

Some more research consists of a new way to reprogram skin cells directly into brain cells! Science daily reports this particular breakthrough…

“The new technique avoids many of the ethical dilemmas that stem cell research has faced. For the first time, a research group at Lund University in Sweden has succeeded in creating specific types of nerve cells from human skin. By reprogramming connective tissue cells, called fibroblasts, directly into nerve cells, a new field has been opened up with the potential to take research on cell transplants to the next level.”

“The discovery represents a fundamental change in the view of the function and capacity of mature cells. By taking mature cells as their starting point instead of stem cells, the Lund researchers also avoid the ethical issues linked to research on embryonic stem cells.”

Collecting ES stem cells from the umbilical cord blood which hold no ethical dilemmas either, has been a focus of research which shows promise. Where maternity wards,  have previously discarded as medical waste, are becoming gold mines for stem cells!

Science daily reports…

“The prototype is still in the testing stage, but initial results are promising. The student inventors have obtained a provisional patent covering the technology and have formed a company, TheraCord, to further develop the technology, which may someday be used widely in hospital maternity units. The students say the need for this system is obvious.

“Cord blood, collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after live birth, is the most viable source of stem cells, yet over 90 percent is uncollected and discarded,” the team members wrote in a presentation of their project at the university’s recent Biomedical Engineering Design Day. “One of the main reasons valuable cord blood is so frequently discarded is because no adequate collection method exists.”

However, it’s not all good news there is some bad news too. Some scientists continue advocating more funding for ES research. Concerns that it might be banned all together which is highly unlikely because not all ES research collected is not ethical rather there is no controversy with collecting and using ES through the umbilical cord and placenta after live birth which are improving with new research. On April 29, a federal appeals court blocked Lamberth’s decision restoring federal financing of human embryonic stem cell research for now. Still some scientists in this field make a faulty argument for their position.

Phyorg reports…

“If federal funding stops for human embryonic stem cell research, it would have a serious negative impact on iPS cell research,” said Stanford University bioethicist Christopher Scott, one of the co-authors. “We may never be able to choose between iPS and ES cell research because we don’t know which type of cell will be best for eventual therapies.”

The research is clear, adult and ips stem cells are the future for treatments, let the evidence lead rather than trying to force taxpayers to fund something that many are not support of, for there is no compelling and logical need to do so!