Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Developments in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Scientific American: Human Embryonic Stem Cells Fix Stroke-Afflicted Rats, by J.R. Minkel:

In a new study, rats were spared the limb-weakening effects of a stroke if they were treated with brain tissue cultivated from human embryonic stem cells. But unlike similar experiments, the transplanted cells gave no sign of causing tumors, according to a report this week in the online journal PLoS One.

Researchers say that if they can build a string of such successes in a range of animal models, they can make a stronger case for testing the cells in people. "This is really exciting, just to overcome this obstacle of tumorigenicity," says Stanford University stem cell biologist Marcel Daadi, a co-author of the study.

Investigators have had success of late creating stem cells, or cells very similar to them, from new sources such as adult human tissue. But the ongoing scientific challenge is to harness those cells' ability to morph into the different adult cell types and thereby develop new treatments for debilitating diseases such as stroke, which strikes about 700,000 Americans every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reuters: Company's stem cells treat diabetes in mice, by  Maggie Fox:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Human stem cells transformed into nearly normal insulin-producing cells when implanted into mice, possibly offering a way to treat diabetes long-term, researchers at a U.S. company reported on Wednesday.

The researchers used human embryonic stem cells -- the most powerful but the most controversial source of stem cells.

Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the team at San Diego, California-based Novocell Inc said their work showed that human embryonic stem cells might fulfill the promise of treating or perhaps even curing diabetes.

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