Sunday, March 01, 2009

More Engineered Stem Cell News

Toronto's Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mt. Sinai Hospital is the site of groundbreaking research on engineered stem cells.
"We hope that these stem cells will form the basis for treatment for many diseases and conditions that are currently considered incurable," said Dr. Nagy, Senior Investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Investigator at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Regeneration. "This new method of generating stem cells does not require embryos as starting points and could be used to generate cells from many adult tissues such as a patient's own skin cells."

Dr. Nagy discovered a new method to create pluripotent stem cells (cells that can develop into most other cell types) without disrupting healthy genes. Dr. Nagy's method uses a novel wrapping procedure to deliver specific genes to reprogram cells into stem cells. Previous approaches required the use of viruses to deliver the required genes, a method that carries the risk of damaging the DNA. Dr. Nagy's method does not require viruses, and so overcomes a major hurdle for the future of safe, personalized stem cell therapies in humans.

"This research is a huge step forward on the path to new stem cell-based therapies and indicates that researchers at the Lunenfeld are at the leading edge of regenerative medicine," said Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of Research for the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital. Regenerative medicine refers to enabling the human body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate its own damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs. _PO
The new method avoids the risks of tumourogenesis that come with using viruses for reprogramming cells into stem cells. Various new and potent techniques of producing virtually any stem cell type from adult cells bring modern biomedicine ever closer to the ability to replace and / or rejuvenate virtually any tissues in the body -- using the person's own cells!

There is still much to be learned about the genetic switching mechanisms involved. Until we are certain that the re-programming techniques can truly provide safe, long-lived replacement cells for the various tissues of the body, we will need to continue experimenting with embryonic stem cell lines as well as with the re-programmed stem cells.

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