In a brilliant new discovery recently announced by the University of Kansas Medical Center in the scientific journal Stem Cells, Dr. Soumen Paul has found a promising new method of multiply a special class of adult stem cells, called “pluripotent” stem cells. According to an article on the KUMC website,[pullquote]”If these results can be replicated in humans, Paul believes, the technology may ultimately be used to generate human cell types, thus bypassing the need for human embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine.”[/pullquote]
“Like embryonic stem cells, pluripotent stem cells have the ability to develop into all different cell types of the human body. This means they could be used to create an unlimited supply of cells, tissues, or even organs that could be transplanted to restore functions lost to disease and injury.”
The initial research has be conducted in mice, but holds promise for human application. The article goes on to say,
“If these results can be replicated in humans, Paul believes, the technology may ultimately be used to generate human cell types, thus bypassing the need for human embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine.” (emphasis mine)
I, like many others who watch such developments, am very much encouraged by this research. I have noted from a number of news and commentary sources that research in embryonic stems cells has not been successful in any studies so far, in terms of curing disease or reconstructing body parts, and instead has resulted in freakish manifestations of side effects and deformities when attempts are made at reconstructive or multiplicative applications. Adult stem cell research, on the other hand, has already begun to be used for viable medical applications with very promising results. For some examples please see:
- Personal Success Stories from Adult Stem Cell Research — Helping People with Real Diseases, and also
- The Case For Adult Stem Cell Research
Just as many like-minded colleagues near and far off, I am in favor of completely banning embryonic stem cell research on the ethical and moral basis that the materials can only be harvested from killed (dare I say murdered?) human beings. We should, rather, be putting all of the funding and efforts that would go to embryonic stem cell research into adult stem cell research, or into other more promising research areas.
Here is a fascinating report from NOVA about this area. Some amazing progress has been made in using an individual’s own cells to create new body parts. In particular, researchers have discovered methods to remove living tissue from a previously living body part from even another species (for example, a pig’s heart), and then recreate a new functioning body part from it by implanting the recipient’s own cells upon the residual scaffolding/framework. This approach potentially eliminates any rejection problems we currently observe in organ donations.
Watch this and be amazed as I was!