Stem Cell Treatment is Controversial, The Research Takes Time
US President George W. Bush (43) issued an executive order banning federal funding for new sources of stem cells developed from pre-implantation human embryos in Y 2001, bringing to a virtual halt research in the US.
Then a few years later Shinya Yamanaka, and Kazutoshi Takahashi devised a technique to re-program any adult cell, such as a skin cell, and nurture it back to its earliest “pluripotent” stage.
And, the scientist in the field became re-energized, because from there a human cell can become any type of cell, from a heart muscle cell to a neuron.
This technique circled around the embryo controversy, and researchers now could have and work with and unlimited supply of stem cells.
In 2012 Dr. Yamanaka shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for re-programming mature cells into what are now called induced pluripotent stem cells.
Dr. Yamanaka is the director of Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, and leads a research lab at the Gladstone Institutes, affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, where his group studies the molecular mechanisms that underlie pluripotency and the factors that induce re-programming.
“The number of human diseases is enormous. We can help just a small portion of patients by stem cell therapy” he said in a recent interview.
The Big Q: Why so few?
The Big A: We have more than 200 types of cells in our body. The diseases I described are caused by loss of function of only 1 type of cell. Parkinson’s disease is caused by failure of very specialized brain cells that produce dopamine. Heart failure is caused by loss of function of cardiac heart cell.
“That s the Key. We can make that one type of cell from stem cells in a large amount, and by transplanting those cells, we should be able to rescue the patient. But many other diseases are caused by multiple types of cell failures, and we cannot treat them with stem cell therapy.”
Expect that soon clinical trials will be well underway for many diseases in the next decade.
Stem cell treatment is still controversial, understand that the research takes time.
Have a terrific weekend.