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Thread: Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine

  1. #1

    Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine

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    Arturo, thanks for posting this. Looks good. Wise.

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    The section on adult stem cells is of particular interest because it summarizes both the excitement and current limitation of bone marrow stem cells transplants, including species differences and the rareness of the stem cells in bone marrow, the fact that most of the successful transplants have required fairly large numbers of highly purified stem cells, and possible differences in the adult stem cell response to the environment and transplantation, compared to embryonic stem cells. The chapter points out the difficulty of maintaining adult stem cells in the stem-cell state in culture and that they tend to differentiate into other cell types in culture. In contrast, the technology for maintaining embryonic stem cells in stem cell state is much better established. Finally, the chapter points out that most of the genes that seem to regulate the stem cell are novel genes that have not yet been studied in other contexts. Although some of these genes have been identified in the mouse, there is a need to identify human equivalents of those genes, suggesting that the path towards better control of the differentiation paths of adult stem cells still need to be determined.

    The section on embryonic stem cells is likewise very well written and enlightening. It pointed out the long history of research on mouse embryonic stem cells (20 years) and how much is known about these cells and methods of growing and manipulating them. It points out a very interesting technique, of culturing embryonic stem cells with differentiated cells, to encourage their differentiation into certain types of cells. The greatest attraction of the embryonic stem cells is that they can be grown to provide a deep source of cells for therapeutic purposes. The greatest obstacles are the tendency for tumor formation and immunorejection. Some data suggest that cells that are pretreated before implantation with a variety of chemicals or cultured with differentiated cells have less tendency for tumor formation. The authors point out that, while it has been suggested that embryonic stem cells are less immunogenic and produce less of rejection than a whole organ transplant, it is not clear that the progency of these cells will be similarly priveleged. They point the possibility of creating a large number of embyronic stem cell lines to allow tissue matching or genetic engineering to eliminate immune antigens. Finally, they mention the possibility of cloned stem cells but pointed out that such cells would not be suitable for treating patients with genetic diseases because it would be just transplanting cells with the same genetic characteristics.


  4. #4
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Wisconsin USA
    Don't know how you found this, Arthur, but it's cool! Wish I had this 2 weeks ago for an interview for a college kid's paper.

    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

  5. #5
    Senior Member mk99's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    toronto, canada
    Great link indeed, thanks!

    I am curious as to what is the current status in the US with leftover embryos at IVF clinics? Can they be donated only to private research or are they currently just being frozen and kept that way indefinitely?

    A friend of mine just had leftoever Embryos (from successful IVF) in Canada and one option for leftoevers was to "donate for reseach". Didn't specify public/private research though.

  6. #6
    MikeK, the current status is that NIH and other federal funds cannot be used to support research on any embryonic cells (whether donated or not) derived after August 9, 2001. Although private funds can be used to create stem cell lines from donated embryos, to my knowledge, I don't know of any attempt so far to create a human embryonic stem cell bank for clinical application. Unfortunately, funds are not available. Wise.

    [This message was edited by Wise Young on Dec 31, 2002 at 11:01 AM.]

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