English: Embryonic Stem Cells. (A) shows hESCs. (B) shows neurons derived from hESCs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Scientists have come up with a new technique for using not just infant stem cells but also stem cells from older adults’ skin to develop treatments for many diseases. They pursued this angle because older adults’ DNA is more suitable to addressing conditions that tend to develop more frequently in older people such as diabetes, arthritis, and so on.
Good to see that the researchers have finally, after many years. found a way to create “embryonic” – meaning able to turn into any other type of human cells (plenipotent as opposed to multipotent) – stem cells without the controversial approach of taking them from discarded human embryos. Good news on all fronts.
This new approach could lead to building a genetic library of stem cells made from strong DNA. It could also be used to draw a patient’s own DNA to develop a patient-specific treatment, though this would be much more expensive than choosing from a library.
Imagine. Alleviating the pain, disability, disfigurement and suffering of diabetes. And arthritis.
For anyone facing the prospect of undergoing the current brutal approaches to joint replacement, according to research at Johns Hopkins, the idea of using stem cells to grow new cartilage, which sounds like the proverbial miracle, may not be that far away.
Image via Wikipedia
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, nitric oxide is a “crucial biological mediator” that helps the body in a dozen different ways—from sexual performance enhancement to easing arthritis to potentially preventing or reversing atherosclerosis. So scientists have been searching for ways to improve the delivery of nitric oxide to critical systems when needed. In their efforts they’ve discovered what they call nitric oxide donor drugs, logically enough, since their main purpose seems to be to help the body generate more nitric oxide and use it more effectively.
Just read about a new such drug, naproxcinod, they’ve tested in comparison with placebo and naproxen, which is a standard NSAID for arthritis. Looks promising for treating the hip pain of osteoarthritis. Having been a hip replacement patient—and having spent more than 10 months in twice-a-week therapy trying to recover semi-normal activity levels—I can vouch for what a great thing it would be to be able to relieve that pain and keep from having that terribly invasive surgery. But of course my real hope for future hip-and-knee-pain-sufferers is that researchers will find a way—they’re already saying it’s promising—to use stem cells to regenerate lost cartilage in our joints. The big issue with that is getting the stem cells to differentiate into the three needed types of cells for cartilage, including the “scaffolding” that has the powerful weight-bearing capabilities of our natural cartilage.
What an amazing thing is the human body. I hope I’m around long enough to see these studies result in actually saving someone from a brutal hip replacement operation.