Yesterday I got an email from Michael where he writes,
Adult stem cells cure and treat more 70 diseases and are involved in almost 1,300 human clinical trials. Scientists also keep discovering that adult stem cells are capable of creating a wider variety of mature cells. Perhaps the most promising of these was announced in the January issue of Nature Biotechnology.
Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported that stem cells in the amniotic fluid that fills the sac surrounding the fetus may be just as versatile as embryonic stem cells. At the same time they maintain all the advantages that have made adult stem cells such a success.
This has caused great consternation on the part of those seeking increased taxpayer embryonic stem cell funds. The reason is that there are currently no practical applications for this type of cell. There hasn’t even been a single clinical trial involving them. Researchers admit we won’t have approved embryonic stem cell treatments for at least 10 years.
Read very word of Michael’s article.
The fact is that while we are spending millions on dollars on embryonic stem cells, the real results are elsewhere – in the other types of stem cells.
What this means to us laymen is we now have the “on-off” switch that turns adult stem cells into some of their target cell types, in this case blood cells (or bone marrow cells). The use of adult stem cells is always preferred due to the genetic match with the patient. And finding this trigger outside the DNA (which is where I would have expected it to be, honestly) is a huge leap ahead. Now scientist will culture a vast number of tailored stem cells from the patient and know how to trigger them to make blood and marrow. It is probable this mechanism is valid for all stem cell control, so what will be left is to find the proper triggers for each cell type. Each target cell type, for example a neuron, is the product of different kinds and mixes of protein production. It would seem normal for each specific mix to have a combination of triggers that make the stem cell transform into the target type.
All speculation based on the apparent breakthrough. But reasonable speculation.
We live in the age of wonders.