Adult Stem Cells Provide Medical Breakthrough
Special Report - March 5, 2008
Researchers have cured sickle cell anemia in a mouse using stem cells cultured from the mouse’s own body according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Douglas R. Higgs, M. D., D.Sc. discusses the process that the doctors used to treat the disease as well as the medical and ethical implications. According to Harris, not only were the scientists able to program fibroblasts “into cells similar to embryonic stem cells,” these scientists were able to successfully use these stem cells in cell therapy by curing a humanized model of sickle cell anemia in a mouse.
Harris describes this breakthrough as “a very exciting advance,” but also notes that the process is still far from perfect. There are still several issues to be worked out before testing can begin on humans. Even so, Harris writes that “we have good reason to be optimistic. This is a key step forward in the treatment of genetic disease and in regenerative medicine.”
Matt Lytle, Director of Research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council commented, “These findings are incredibly exciting because they may represent the beginnings of a new series of valuable medical breakthroughs in the arena of adult stem cell research. So far, all of the medical advances, including treatments and cures for over seventy ailments, have come through research using adult-induced stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells, while none have resulted from destructive embryonic stem cell research. This announcement continues to demonstrate the fact that killing human life at its earliest and most vulnerable stage in order to harvest stem cells is not necessary to advance medicine. ”
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