Friday, September 21, 2007
Men have a source of potentially life-saving stem cells between their legs.
A team of American researchers has found a way to easily identify stem cells in the testicles of adult mice that can be coaxed to turn into brain cells, muscle cells, heart cells, blood cells and even blood vessels.
One day, they say, male patients may be able to turn to their own testicles as a source of stem cells to repair an ailing heart or kidney or to fix the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
The procedure would involve removing a small piece of testicle - about the same amount used for a biopsy. "We don't need a lot of material," says Marco Seandel, the lead author of a paper to be published today in the journal Nature and a stem cell researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland.
His team's work - and that of a German team also experimenting with stem cells extracted from testicles - is part of a growing international effort to look beyond the embryo for cells that can give rise to all human body parts and systems.
I have to agree with the editors at DailyKos who write, "Rarely has any medical breaththrough offered so many potential benefits to the population, while also providing such bounty to late night commedians."