Thursday, 4 September 2008

All Forms of Stem Cell Research Needed

Researchers Push Need for All Forms of Stem Cell Research Thursday, 04 September 2008 In light of a recent breakthrough study in adult stem cell research published in Nature, a group of the world’s leading researchers, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), cautions against discounting the potential benefits of all forms of stem cell research, adult and embryonic alike. The study, conducted at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute by Dr. Douglas Melton, co-director of the Institute and a founding member of the ISSCR, demonstrated in mice that a non-insulin producing cell in the pancreas could be diverted to produce insulin through a process called “direct reprogramming”. “There is no question that this study represents a great advance in the field of regenerative medicine,” said Dr. George Q. Daley, ISSCR past-president and associate director of the Stem Cell Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. “But as Dr. Melton himself has emphatically stated, this advance does not negate the role of research with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) or human embryonic stem cells. In fact, embryonic stem cell research provides science with the very foundation and insights that make advances like this study possible. There is no question that embryonic and all adult forms of stem cell research must continue if we are to realize the full promise of regenerative medicine.” Although iPS cells themselves represent a major technological advance, studies with embryonic stem cells will remain essential to ultimately advancing the potential of iPS cells for clinical application. “We are continuing to do research using human embryonic stem cells and iPS cells,” Dr. Douglas Melton explained. “We would not be where we are today without having worked with human embryonic stem cells. These unique cells provide a window into human development and disease development that is needed if we are to make further progress in understanding and treating chronic diseases. Embryonic stem cells remain the key to long-term progress in this field.” While transforming adult cells directly from one specialized type to another is a huge leap in stem cell research, scientists warn that it may be years before the technology could translate into cures for chronic diseases in humans, and that there are still many barriers to overcome. There is hope that these experiments in mice will be translatable to humans. However, testing would involve manipulations now carefully managed by the FDA and the Institutional Review Boards that oversee the use of humans in experimental therapies. In such manipulations, the virus that delivers the reprogramming genes could pose dangers to patients at this point, and more research is needed. In the meantime, researchers continue to pursue all avenues of stem cell research in their efforts to alleviate debilitating conditions. The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is an independent, non-profit membership organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application. ......... ZenMaster

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