November 13, 2008
Stem Cells, Reborn
In the emerging field of regenerative medicine one topic that has earned its fair share of notoriety is the issue of embryonic stem cell research. Stem cells are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through cell division and differentiate into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Since stem cells can be grown and transformed into specialized cells with characteristics consistent with various tissue such as muscles or nerves, their use in medical therapies has been prized. The goal of any stem cell therapy is to repair damaged tissue that can't heal itself, which might be accomplished by transplanting stem cells into damaged areas and directing them to grow new, healthy tissue.
However, a widespread controversy exists over human embryonic stem cell research emanating from certain techniques used in their creation and usage. The practice is controversial because, using current methods, starting a stem cell line requires the destruction of a human embryo. The pro-life movement argues that a human embryo is a human life and is therefore entitled to protection.
Recently, the company reported that by using its proprietary technique, cells from a single donor could be matched to general genetic patterns of hundreds of millions of patients. Since a single line of these cells may eliminate immune rejection issues in large segments of the population, parthenogenetic stem cells will be enormously valuable as a treatment of choice for diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. "Practically speaking," says Mr. Aldrich, "if stem cells could be made to grow into tissues and organs, waiting lists for transplant recipients would become a thing of the past." Visit www.internationalstemcell.com to learn more.