Tag Archives: embryonic stem cells

Keeping stem cells at full potential

Salk Institute scientists Jovylyn Gatchalian and Diana Hargreaves. Credit: Salk Institute
Salk Institute scientists Jovylyn Gatchalian and Diana Hargreaves. Credit: Salk Institute

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. Once they start down a path towards a particular type of cell, they lose the ability to become any other type. No one understands why this is so or how it happens, but scientists are hoping to find a way to stall this unlimited potential in order to develop “regenerative therapies” that can give the body’s own cells the chance to rebuild tissues and organs.

Now at the Salk Institute two scientists have discovered a new protein complex called GBAF that can do just that. Described in the December 2018 issue of Nature Communications, the complex offers hope of eventually providing a target for ways to help the body regenerate pieces of itself.

The promises of non-invasive medicine grow greater with every passing day.


Embryonic stem cells made from human skin

English: Embryonic Stem Cells. (A) shows hESCs...
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.

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