Cellular Dynamics International‘s disclosure Wednesday that its researchers have generated stem cells from ordinary human blood samples holds enormous promise in the emerging field of personalized medicine.
The promise in the long term is that, by giving a vial or two of blood, we could all have our own personal stem cells to deploy in the event of a spinal cord injury or the onset of Parkinson’s disease or many other now-incurable diseases.
Cellular Dynamics is the first company to say it can make stem cells from something as readily available, and so representative of human diversity, as blood.
“This stuff sounds
Thursday August 4, 2011
Hi everyone. This is Jocelyn Kaiser, a news writer for Science magazine. In today’s chat, we’re talking about last week’s court decision finding that federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research is legal. We’ll discuss what’s next for Sherley v. Sebelius and what it’s like to work in an area of research where policies are always changing. Guest Hank Greely, a law professor at Stanford, is here now and we’re hoping to be joined later by Amander Clark, a stem cell researcher at UCLA. Let’s start with a question for Hank.
Hank, why was this
Many of us know by now that stem cells are remarkably fluid in the types of cells they can become. But this fluidity, or pluripotency, comes with a price. Several studies have shown that the body’s immune system will attack and reject even genetically identical transplanted stem cells, making it difficult to envision their usefulness for long-term therapies.
Now Stanford cardiologist Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, and his colleagues have shown that coaxing the stem cells to become more-specialized (a process known as differentiation) before transplantation allows the body to recognize and tolerate the cells. Their research was published today in
The blood-brain barrier — the filter that governs what can and cannot come into contact with the mammalian brain — is a marvel of nature. It effectively separates circulating blood from the fluid that bathes the brain, and it keeps out bacteria, viruses and other agents that could damage it.
But the barrier can be disrupted by disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis, for example, and also is a big challenge for medicine, as it can be difficult or impossible to get therapeutic molecules through the barrier to treat neurological disorders.
Now, however, the blood-brain barrier may be poised to give up
Ever since human induced pluripotent stem cells were first derived in 2007, scientists have wondered whether they were functionally equivalent to embryonic stem cells, which are sourced in early stage embryos.
Both cell types have the ability to differentiate into any cell in the body, but their origins — in embryonic and adult tissue — suggest that they are not identical.
Although both cell types have great potential in basic biological research and in cell- and tissue-replacement therapy, the newer form, called IPS cells, have two advantages. They face less ethical constraint, as they do not require embryos. And they could