Regenerative medicine breakthrough announced

07 October 2011

Posted by Michelle Devonshire

The development of patient-specific stem cells has taken a step forward, according to scientists in the US.

A team from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Laboratory in New York City has revealed they have created embryonic stem cells tailored to individual patients, in this case those with type 1 diabetes.

Reporting in the journal Nature, the researchers explained that by adding the nuclei of adult skin cells to unfertilized donor oocytes they were able to create cells that could potentially replace those that are damaged and diseased in a way that minimizes the threat of rejection by a patient's immune system.

Led by Dieter Egli and Scott Noggle, the team believes the breakthrough could be used in the future to develop regenerative medicine treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.

"If we can reprogram cells to a pluripotent state, they can give rise to the very cell types affected by disease, providing great potential to effectively treat and even cure these diseases," Dr Egli explained.

Further work is now required at the facility in Manhattan to create possible treatments, providing patients with healthy cells that can be implanted to replace those lost or damaged through injury.

A further discovery in the field of regenerative medicine has also been unveiled, with specialists from the Stanford University School of Medicine devising a new method of treatment for kidney-transplant patients that permits them to stop taking immune-suppressing drugs.

Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the research revealed that eight out of 12 patients participating in a small study were free of such pharmaceuticals for at least one year without any damage being caused to the new organ.

This was achieved by giving them donor kidneys that have been immunologically-matched, carrying out carefully targeted irradiation of lymph nodes in patients and administering stem cells drawn from their blood.

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