Researchers make stem cell breakthrough

Mar 01, 2009
stem cells
Human embryonic stem cells. Image: Samantha Zeitlin, 2006 CIRM fellow

In a study to be released on March 1, 2009, Mount Sinai Hospital's Dr. Andras Nagy discovered a new method of creating stem cells that could lead to possible cures for devastating diseases including spinal cord injury, macular degeneration, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. The study, to be published by Nature online, accelerates stem cell technology and provides a road map for new clinical approaches to regenerative medicine.

"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.

The research was funded by the Canadian Stem Cell Network and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (United States).

Dr. Nagy joined Mount Sinai Hospital as a Principal investigator in 1994. In 2005, he created Canada's first embryonic stem cell lines from donated embryos no longer required for reproduction by couples undergoing fertility treatment. That research played a pivotal role in Dr. Nagy's current discovery.

One of the critical components reported in Nagy's paper was developed in the laboratory of Dr. Keisuke Kaji from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Kaji's findings are also published in the March 1, 2009 issue of Nature. The two papers are highly complementary and further extend Nagy's findings.

"I was very excited when I found stem cell-like cells in my culture dishes. Nobody, including me, thought it was really possible," said Dr. Kaji. "It is a step towards the practical use of reprogrammed cells in medicine."

Source: Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute

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CWFlink
4 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2009
Excellent news!
If true, this effectively ends the debate over embryonic stem cell research by eliminating the need to harvest stem cells from human embryos. This is actually the latest of a long list of discoveries, including animal embryonic stem cells, demonstrating real progress toward cures NOT blocked by ethical restrictions on harvesting HUMAN embryos.
( See: http://www.physor...895.html )

This reminds us again of the importance of careful basic research, including animal studies, before rushing with "blind hope" into questionable experiments instead of working of basic research. It also reminds us of the danger of politicizing science. How much money has been wasted on hype about freezing embryos or umbilical cord blood on the assumption that these procedures were required for any successful stem cell therapy in the future? How many parents have worried that they failed to save the cord blood of their children? How many ill adults have anguished about never having a cure because of imagined failings by their parents or their politicians?
In fact, it is possible the push toward using adult stem cells has resulted in practical cures coming sooner, not later. Let science work without politics or hyper-capitalism, but within ethical boundaries.
CWFlink
not rated yet Mar 01, 2009
CWFlink
not rated yet Mar 01, 2009
Note: the automatic conversion of links breaks when the article is edited by the author. As a result, I had to add the link as a second message. Sorry for wasting this space. I hope the PhysOrg folks will fix this bug soon... we often see http links scrambled by the code that strips out HTML tags.
Soylent
3 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2009
Excellent news!
If true, this effectively ends the debate over embryonic stem cell research by eliminating the need to harvest stem cells from human embryos.


No.

These are not totipotent stem-cells.

Past damage done to stemcell research by imoral, hypocritical bastards will not be forgotten. These blastocysts and morulas are left overs from fertility treatment, were still killed and will still continue to be killed at the same rate in the future for as long as fertility treatments exist regardless of whether you allow stemcell research on totipotent stem cells.

Allowing them to go to waste instead of being used has potentially doomed millions of people to die needlessly; real people, with real social lives and emotions and has not saved one single little clump of undifferentiated cells that these science illiterates where so desperate to protect.
Sean_W
2 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2009
One day God will rise up an army of martyred stem cells which will ooze across the land to attack those who have not the seal of the living God in their foreheads. Then were will all you cell slaughters be? Oozed! That's where.
joefarah
1 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2009
So will we now put to rest the development/killing of tiny humans? My guess - NO! Why? Because those who advocate it do so BECAUSE it is evil. Not because of the potential benefits. I dare anyone in the media to corner such an advocate with this news.
whygreen
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2009
Dr Nagy could not imagine stem cells from skin before 2005, but if you see www.cancerfraudbadbiotech.com the early 2003/4 section on Michael J Fox and Congress/embryonic stem cells I did saying this was unnecessary because skin cells could be used. I was blacklisted by criminals at the U of Waterloo, and now that Pres. Emeruitis Douglas Wright has been fined and removed from the Board of RIM for conspiring as far back as 1996 the public can understand how criminals operate. My research was black listed to cover up academic fraud at UW.The point becomes Noam Chomsky has said it could be of phenomenal importance to mankind while Dr. Jocelyn Elders,fmr US Surgeon General has regretted my treatment. Material is being prepared for Pres. Obama , but I Still need the public's help to over come the corruption that has blocked the research up to now. With this further vindication of my research I hope and pray the public will understand and help. Thank you. E.A.Greenhalgh
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2009
Greenhalgh, I did a search on you. It came up with you making hordes of unsolicited comments(just like this one yours and for that matter my comment). I haven't a seen single sign of actual research by you or a an indication that you actually are qualified to work in any research lab. I am not saying that you aren't but I do notice that even you do not mention any education of any kind. There isn't even a Phd at the end of your name as I suspect there would be if you had earned one. Even your website is markedly lacking in this.

So is there some reason that anyone should think you have any expertise at all? Why should anyone help you merely on your say so? That Elders note you say she wrote is only expressing regret and doesn't say a single thing about WHY or if there was any reason that came to her attention independent from you. In fact it looked like a fairly standard letter one might write to avoid confrontation with someone that you have never met and do not wish to.

So please show some sign that this is real and not just something in your head. If you can do that you might get somewhere.

Ethelred
CWFlink
not rated yet Mar 08, 2009
Since there appear to be some "experts" here (sorry for the quotes but "experts" have had a very poor record this decade), I add my words from elsewhere and request comment:

We use to always test new techniques on animals. It was considered unethical to do otherwise. There NEVER has been ANY restrictions on research using animal embryonic stem cells to treat animal diseases or grow replacement organs for animals.

Will the President list the "demonstrated" cures derived from these animal experiments to justify now moving into human testing?

I doubt it... Most researchers have discovered that it is easier to take a skin or bone marrow cell and "trick" them into retrogressing into the equivalent of the patient's own embryonic stem cell rather than to fight the autoimmune response that results from injecting a stem cell derived from a "fresh" (and necessarily DNA unique) embryo.

For this reason, I believe the hype around the very limited embryonic stem cell FUNDING ban was primarily from two communities:
a) businesses trying to create new businesses (harvesting embryos, freezing cord blood, etc.... you see their ads everywhere embryonic stem cell research is reported), and
b) people who seem to dread the thought that fertilization (unique DNA sequence generation) could possibly define the beginning of a unique life.

It is very unfortunate that religious prejudices and excessive hype (and fear driven by greed) has become the focus of so much energy and time. I am happy to report that the REAL researchers in this field have moved on, discovering techniques that do not require the "harvesting" of embryos, reducing the whole debate to yet another piece of crass political theater.
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2009
Will the President list the "demonstrated" cures derived from these animal experiments to justify now moving into human testing?

I doubt it...


I doubt it as well. Its not his job. His job is to decide how money that he controls is spent.

Since there appear to be some "experts" here (sorry for the quotes but "experts" have had a very poor record this decade),


Yes, the Presidential Moron and His Minions of Ignorance were suppressing them for the last eight years. So real experts had little or no record at all at least where the Minions had any sway.

There NEVER has been ANY restrictions on research using animal embryonic stem cells to treat animal diseases or grow replacement organs for animals.


Unfortunately research on non-human animals does always match the results in humans. Animal tests are usually done on short lived animals and those shorter lives make them poor subjects for many things.

Most researchers have discovered that it is easier to take a skin or bone marrow cell and "trick" them into retrogressing into the equivalent of the patient's own embryonic stem cell


So far I don't think that has been managed with humans. What has been managed is to find a stem cell for a particular cell group, like skin or blood, and get them to form other different kinds of cell of the same group.

That was pointed out to you by someone else already.

rather than to fight the autoimmune response that results from injecting a stem cell derived from a "fresh" (and necessarily DNA unique) embryo.


Avoiding the autoimmune response is one of the reasons for using embryonic stem cells. They don't seem to trigger one.

a) businesses trying to create new businesses (


See what I wrote above. Try responding to the people that replied to you. Otherwise you look like you don't give a damn what others think. Which leads to people not caring what you think.

b) people who seem to dread the thought that fertilization (unique DNA sequence generation) could possibly define the beginning of a unique life.


You have a lot of anger there. I doubt that anyone rational would disagree with basic concept. However a unique life is created whenever a sexual species reproduces. Many die without ever hatching or being born. Twenty per cent of all human conceptions end in SPONTANEOUS abortion (not to be confused with clinical abortion).

The fact is that the majority of Americans believe in the mother having a choice. Clearly if they thought a cluster of barely differentiated cells constituted a human being they would think differently. The question for most is not whether an embryo or fetus is a human being but when. It's not at conception for most, nor at the eight to 16 cell step either, which what is used in embryonic cell research. I go for when the Cerebral Cortex gets going.

It is very unfortunate that religious prejudices and excessive hype (and fear driven by greed)


Seems like you have the religious prejudices down pat. Fear too. Won't comment on greed except that you seem to be projecting that on anyone that disagrees with you.

reducing the whole debate to yet another piece of crass political theater.


Which you are contributing to with a hidden agenda. Not well hidden. It sure looks like a religious agenda because it casts aspersions on all that think different.

Ethelred