Breakthrough in stem cell research

April 13, 2005

In an Australian first, UNSW researchers have developed three clones of cells from existing human embryonic stem cells. The breakthrough could lead to new treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury.
"This cloning of cells involves a new technique, which is a very accurate way of extracting and then growing a single cell," said UNSW Senior Lecturer Dr Kuldip Sidhu, who is leading the research and is based at the Diabetes Transplant Unit (DTU) at the Prince of Wales Hospital, a major teaching hospital of UNSW. "There has only been one report of cloning of cells from human embryonic stem cells anywhere else in the world – in Israel."

By growing a human stem cell colony from a single cell, researchers are one step closer to deriving a homogenous population of cells of a particular type.

"There are about 230 different cell types in the body. All these cells are derived from three embryonic layers – one which forms the brain and spinal cord, another which forms the guts and liver and a third which forms muscles and bones," he said. "We need to establish a recipe to derive each of these from human embryonic stem cells, so they can be transplanted straight into the affected area of a patient.

"The insulin-producing cells, which are derived from the layer which also forms the gut and liver are the holy grail for diabetes researchers," said Dr Sidhu. "That's because they are destroyed in type-1 diabetes, which affects at least 100,000 people in Australia. So far there is no cure for it.

"Human embryonic stem cell research offers a permanent answer to the problem. It gives the hope that we can produce a pure population of those cells in large numbers and transplant them into the patient."

The researchers are currently in the discovery phase, where they are trying to characterise the three clonal lines they have developed.

"It is too early to say anything about these clonal lines, but one of them is inclined towards the cells which form the guts and liver," said Dr Sidhu.

Dr Sidhu and Professor Bernie Tuch, the Director of DTU have received a grant for US$140,000 for two years from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in the United States to continue their work.

The research comes as the Federal government's moratorium limiting the use of excess embryos ends.

Source: University of New South Wales

Explore further: How rejuvenation of stem cells could lead to healthier aging

Related Stories

How rejuvenation of stem cells could lead to healthier aging

January 17, 2018

"Rampant" and "elderly" are words rarely used in the same sentence, unless we are talking of the percentage of people over 65 years old worldwide. Life expectancy has considerably increased, but it is still unknown how many ...

Surgeon discusses latest treatments for shoulder problems

January 17, 2018

Anthony Romeo, MD, watched the recent World Series with particular interest. A specialist in shoulder and elbow surgery, Romeo treats many well-known Major League Baseball pitchers and other players. He is one of the doctors ...

Recommended for you

How living systems compute solutions to problems

January 17, 2018

How do decisions get made in the natural world? One possibility is that the individuals or components in biological systems collectively compute solutions to challenges they face in their environments. Consider that fish ...

Scale-eating fish adopt clever parasitic methods to survive

January 17, 2018

Think of them as extra-large parasites. A small group of fishes—possibly the world's cleverest carnivorous grazers—feeds on the scales of other fish in the tropics. The different species' approach differs: some ram their ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.