Stanford stem cell researcher Irving Weissman, MD, published an article in Cell Stem Cell today discussing barriers to stem cell research:
While I am usually an optimist, I must admit that there is a possibility that we will continue to be in the Dark Ages of medicine for quite some time. I fear that therapies using purified tissue and organ-specific stem cells – the only self-renewing cells in a tissue or that can regenerate that tissue or organ for life – will remain elusive.
Weissman, who directs Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, goes on to cover the
Stem cell therapies – treatments that involve the transplantation of stem cells, organs, or other cells into patients to improve the function of diseased or damaged tissues or organs – is a field that has been steadily advancing. Perhaps more than any other industry, stem cell therapies is poised to make a significant near-term impact on worldwide public health, and many individuals living today may experience stem cell-related therapies.
The most obvious use of stem cells is in cell-replacement therapies, but they are also valuable in disease modeling, drug discovery, and drug toxicity assessment. Stem cell therapies are currently being
In his latest defiance of the federal government, Gov. Rick Perry is trying to make Texas the nation’s top provider of an unlicensed therapy touted by some as the future of medicine but considered not close to ready for mainstream use by scientists in the field.
Perry this summer worked with his Houston doctor and a state legislator with multiple sclerosis to write legislation intended to commercialize the controversial therapy, which involves injecting patients with their own stem cells. Perry quietly got the therapy as part of back surgery in July.
“With the right policies in place, we can lead the
Professor Jeanne Loring
Stem cells show great potential to enable treatments for conditions such as spinal injuries or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and also as research tools. One of the greatest problems slowing such work is that researchers have found major complications in purifying cell mixtures, for instance to remove stem cells that can cause tumors from cells developed for use in medical treatments. But a group of Scripps Research scientists, working with colleagues in Japan, have developed a clever solution to this purification problem that should prove more reliable than other methods, safer, and perhaps 100 times cheaper.
Experimenting with cells in culture, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have breathed possible new life into two drugs once considered too toxic for human cancer treatment. The drugs, azacitidine (AZA) and decitabine (DAC), are epigenetic-targeted drugs and work to correct cancer-causing alterations that modify DNA.
The researchers said that the drugs also were found to take aim at a small but dangerous subpopulation of self-renewing cells, sometimes referred to as cancer stem cells, which evade most cancer drugs and cause recurrence and spread.
In a report published in the March 20 issue of Cancer Cell, the Johns Hopkins