New stem cell class found

New stem cell class found
Highlights

An Australian research team together with international scientists has discovered a new stem cell that can be programmed to become any part of the body. The ramifications of the find mean a transplant can be conducted by using patient\'s own cells, which can be made into organs and tissue.

They can grow into any body part: Researchers

Sydney: An Australian research team together with international scientists has discovered a new stem cell that can be programmed to become any part of the body. The ramifications of the find mean a transplant can be conducted by using patient's own cells, which can be made into organs and tissue.

The discovery, published in the journal Nature on Thursday, is a breakthrough in stem cell research. "These are remarkably useful cells, because you can apply them to several different areas of medicine," said molecular biologist Thomas Preiss of the Australian National University. More than 50 researchers from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and South Korea worked in the study, known as Project Grandiose, which identified the pluripotent stem cell.

The new cell is considered a potential prototype for mass production of therapeutic stem cells to treat a huge range of illnesses and injuries. Conditions such as blindness, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and spinal cord injury will be major beneficiaries of the new find.

The breakthrough is particularly good news for the research and treatment of conditions associated with tissue damage and cell loss such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and spinal cord injury. Professor Preiss said the newly identified stem cell had also proved easier to grow in large quantities and to manipulate than traditional cells, which need to be grown in complex and expensive solutions.

Pluripotent stem cells are also an alternative to embryonic stem cells, which are also able to grow into any type of cell in the body but are often controversial, given the ethical questions that surround them. "If you can take a skin biopsy from a patient and make a replacement part from that, then that's going to be much more broadly applicable and also bypass ethical concerns," he said. The chance of the body rejecting the transplant of an organ made using its own cells is also greatly reduced.

Professor Preiss said the newly identified stem cell has also proved easier to grow in large quantities and to manipulate than traditional cells, which need to be grown in complex and expensive solutions

Agencies

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