Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, December 12, 2014

Breakthrough in Human Tissue Regeneration

"It was just like a black box. You start with a skin cell, you arrive at a stem cell -- but we had no idea what was happening inside the cell."
Dr. Andras Nagy, senior scientist, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto
Dr. Andras Nagy, senior scientist at Mount Sinai Hospital: "Everybody's going to benefit."
Handout/Mount Sinai Hospital/The Canadian Press    Dr. Andras Nagy, senior scientist at Mount Sinai Hospital: "Everybody's going to benefit."
"Should we, instead of waiting the full 21 days, should we start using the cells a week into the progression or two weeks into the progression? Do they have optimal therapeutic properties then? Do they gain some or do they lose some as it [the process] moves along?"
"So depending on the therapy, so maybe for spinal-cord injury treatments ... or diabetes ... you can look at this database and say, OK, we are going to stop our cells in the progression at this stage."
"So it allows for more personalized therapy."
Dr. Ian Rogers, co-author of F-class stem cell transformation findings

"This encyclopedic data set ... will worldwide help to power many more discoveries by hundreds of research labs working in this field and in the fields of cancer and fetal development and many other areas."
Dr. Jim Woodgett, director, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital

"This research can and will and is leading to new medical treatments using a patient's own cells."
"That kind of individualized treatment is something that physicians like me have only dreamed of in the past."
Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins

Imagine medical science moving to the science-fiction-like reality of an individual's own skin cells manipulated through a laboratory protocol to become stem cells and in the process of using them for regenerative purposes enabling the medical community to steer a patient suffering from blindness, Parkinson's disease, diabetes or spinal cord injuries to heal from their life-diminishing effects.

Nature has endowed a few species of animal life with the ability to regenerate lost limbs; one creature is even capable of regrowing a new head. She bypassed this elegant physical renewal capability for human beings, instead endowing us with large, complex brains and the ability to synthesize thought processes into potential formulae and designs, a feature that increasingly looks capable of providing humankind with the ability to regenerate parts of its physical presence.

Lizards are able to grow new tails when their old ones are lost, a feat that can be accomplished within a nine-month period. Flat worms called planarians if cut into pieces can grow each of those pieces into a new worm. Sea cucumbers also have the capacity to regenerate; similar to the planarians they too can create new life from parts of themselves cut off. Sharks may grow 24,000 teeth in a lifetime in replacing those lost.
mexican axolotl picture
The Mexican axolotl. Photograph by Stephen Dalton, NHPA/Photoshot, National Geographic Stock  - This creature is capable of regenerating a missing limb; tail; and parts of their brain, heart, and lower jaw

Spiders are endowed by nature with the feature enabling them to regrow missing legs. Sponges can be divided and the sponge cells will regrow and recombine precisely as originally presented. And starfish can grow new arms for those that are lost and sometimes a completely new animal can grow out of a single lost arm. Such survival features certainly favour these species' enduring quality of life, so why not humans?

An international team of researchers led by Canadians is in the throes of solving the scientific puzzle of the process that occurs when a specialized cell taken from the skin of a human being becomes reprogrammed into an embryonic-like stem cell. A stem cell from which any other cell type in the body can be generated.

Through the process of their of their scientific enquiry the scientists identified another, hitherto unknown stem cell type, fuzzy in appearance, which they named an F-class stem cell. Five scientific papers describing their work and their findings were published in the journals Nature and Nature Communications.

In 2012 Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize for his 2006 discovery that adult skin cells could be turned into embryonic-like (pluripotent) stem cells when manipulated. It is his work as the scaffold upon which the current research was designed. Dr. Nagy led a team of 50 researchers representing Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea and Australia in four years of analyzing and cataloguing the process that occurs in the reprogramming of stem cells.

A 21-day laboratory process mysteriously transformed skin cells into the pluripotent cells, or stem cells, but the process whereby the transformation occurs remains unknown. The research team catalogued changes as they occurred, removing cells from culture dishes at various times throughout the three-week period, analyzing the cellular material at that particular time of change.

The resulting database is intended to be freely available to scientists worldwide. With the anticipation that with this base of new knowledge new research to advance the field of stem cell-based regenerative medicine will take place within the scientific international community and any consequential break-throughs will most certainly be of immense value in the treatment of the human condition.

The F-class stem cells Dr. Nagy's laboratory identified have been recognized for their unique properties in the expectation they could pave the way toward new protocols to generate specialized cells more safely, and more efficiently for use in therapies of the future. That they can be grown faster and more effectively in bioreactors represents another bonus.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet