Breakthrough development in stem cell research

Scientists have recently discovered an innovative method that changes how stem cells will be produced.

Stem cell technology has been around for quite a while, but many patients are wary to participate, and doctors are hesitant to perform procedures involving stem cells because of the controversy over how they are obtained.

Generally, the embryonic stem cell is the easiest type to obtain. This is where the controversy lies because human embryos are destroyed in the harvesting process. Now, scientists and researchers at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have found a way to transform cells into stem cells a method that does not cause harm to embryos.

It was recently discovered that stem cells could be produced by using the patients own blood. The procedure is relatively fast, causing a vast number of cells to be produced in a short period of time.

The following procedure has been tested only on mice thus far but has proven to be successful. The procedure involves soaking blood cells in acid for a half an hour, causing a severe shock to the cells. They are then taken out of the acid, set out and stimulated for several days in order to erase the memory of the cells, thus allowing the cells to completely reprogram themselves.

(The discovery) was shocking because it was so easy that scientists didnt know why they hadnt done this before, says Shihuan Kuang, associate professor of animal sciences.

Through extensive research, a scientist by the name of Shinya Yamanaka discovered that when put into extreme conditions, the cells could express different genes, causing them to be able to turn into whatever cell is needed.

This near-fatal shock to the system is proving to be worth the risk since the chemical shocks result in a change in cellular fate, said Kuang.

Although not yet tested on adults, the great potential of this new method to produce stem cells outweighs the risks because it is able to heal ailments that were previously thought incurable.

Since the cells are able to become any cell necessary, this new method has endless applications of healing in areas including diabetes, paralysis, blindness, Parkinsons disease and stroke.

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Breakthrough development in stem cell research

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