Stem cell research is touted as the next tool through which medical breakthroughs will be achieved. Since 2004, millions of dollars in grants have been awarded to educate the public and fund stem cell research in California (CA), after a proposition was approved by voters to create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). 1% of that funding, to date, has been set aside for urinary tract/kidney disease research [https://www.cirm.ca.gov/our-progress/stem-cell-research-funding-overview]. But stem cell research is controversial, right? Doesn’t it involve the use of embryonic stem cells which are derived from harvested embryos? Aren’t people worried that people will choose to terminate pregnancies for profit and that would be an ethical issue? No! – Not all stem cell research uses embryo-derived cells. Stem cells are found throughout the body in various adult tissues including bone marrow, which can be used to obtain stem cells, referred to as “adult stem cells”. These are the cells that your body produces naturally, that inhabit various tissues that need to be regenerated constantly: bone marrow (blood cells), adipose (fat) tissue, mesenchymal cells, or even the dental pulp of your teeth contain adult stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from the bone marrow or from within the vasculature within fat tissue [Zuk, P. A., 2001] can ultimately become bone, cartilage or fat cells. Research studies have shown that MSC’s can mature and incorporate into living lung, liver, heart [Li, J. H., 2008] and even the brain. Stem cells can also be harvested from muscle (a source that is easily accessed and available in large quantities). Although embryonic stem cells were initially favored as it was thought they were more flexible to become any kind of tissue, this has been shown to not be the case. Adult MSC’s have been shown to be just as efficient in developing into vascular cells, for instance [De Coppi, P., 2007].
Posts Tagged: stem cells
The time is ripe, I hear. within our lifetimes. There is hope for more than just treatment, but an actual cure . . . the flood gates are open through life-saving research that is happening as I type…. What are Stem Cells?