Stem cells created for 10 genetic disorders

August 19, 2008

It was reported back in November 2007 last year that research teams in Wisconsin and Japan had reprogrammed skin cells, and that the cells had behaved like stem cells in a series of lab tests. This new technique could lead to treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s and more developments keep coming in.

Just last week, Harvard team of scientists said they had reprogrammed skin cells from two elderly patients with ALS, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) a degenerative motor neuron disease, and grew the reprogrammed skin cells into nerve cells.

Now, scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in the USA say they have created stems cells for 10 genetic disorders, which will allow researchers to watch the diseases develop in a lab dish and watch what goes right, and wrong. This early step, using a new technique, could help speed up efforts to find treatments for some of the most confounding ailments and was reported online Thursday in the journal Cell.

Dr. George Daley and his colleagues used ordinary skin cells and bone marrow from people with a variety of diseases, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Down syndrome to produce the stem cells. Like the previous research, this technique reprogrammed the cells, giving them the chameleon-like qualities of embryonic stem cells, which can morph into all kinds of tissue, such as heart, nerve and brain. As with embryonic stem cells, the hope is to speed medical research into the degenerative diseases for which there are currently no good treatments and, more importantly, no good animal models for the most part in studying them.


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