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Browsing Posts in Stem Cell Research

For all those who were waiting with bated breath for the first ever Human Embryonic stem cell (HESC) phase I clinical trials to begin, well there’s good news. On the 30th of July 2010, the US based Geron Corporation announced the FDA’s approval to its HESC based clinical trials in humans. The announcement comes after a year-long set-back to the proposed trials, after the company discovered during some of its tests that the rats treated with the stem cell line developed cysts. This set off a spate of further tests to ensure efficacy and safety of the therapy. After a year, the company seems to have effectively allayed fears of tumorigenicity and has obtained a green signal from the US FDA and will be beginning the first human trials of Human Embryonic stem cell therapy in the world.

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DIABETES

On the third of March 2010, UK based leading stem cell Therapy Company ReNeuron announced positive pre-clinical data for the treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in Diabetic Patients using its indigenously developed Stem cell line ReN009. PAD occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries. This plaque generally is made up of fats and cholesterol, calcium and fibrous components of the body. Periodic build-up of such fats in the arteries can cause them to harden and narrow the lumen (Hollow space) of the artery. This narrowing prevents proper blood flow within the body. Known as Atherosclerosis, this generally affects blood flow to the legs but can also affect flow to kidneys hands and other parts of the body. PAD is a chronic and debilitating disease that progressively restricts blood flow in the limbs, causing cramping, chronic pain and in extreme cases, amputation.  PAD is commonly associated with other conditions, including diabetes, obesity and stroke.  At least 1 in 20 people over the age of 55 have some degree of PAD and it becomes more common with increasing age. For more on this disease please click here

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Stem cell therapy has drawn a lot of interest lately. This therapy has shown promise in treatments of a large number of life- threatening and/or debilitating disorders that are genetic in nature. Stem cells are like base cells. They are like clay that can be molded into any desired shape. These master cells are multi potent and if given optimum conditions, they can be induced to grow into any one of the various  types of differentiated cells in our body; for example Brain or liver cells. Thus these special cells have two important attributes: 1. They can renew themselves by cell division even after relatively long periods of inaction. 2. Once they have divided, each daughter cell can either remain as a stem cell, retaining all its pluripotency or it can differentiate into any one of the different organ types in the body. Stem cells also exist in various tissue systems to serve repair functions.

Typically stem cells are divided into adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are derived from the Blastocyst stage of Embryos. Embryonic stem cells can generally give rise to almost all the different cell types in the human body. Adult stem cells on the other hand, generally give rise only to all the different cells of the particular tissue from which they are derived. What does this mean? In simple terms, Hematopoetic Stem cells derived from bone marrow can give rise to all the different types of blood cells but not to cells of a very different organ system such as neurons of the brain. So in a sense they are of limited capacity. In 2006, researchers made another breakthrough by identifying conditions that would allow some specialized adult cells to be “reprogrammed” genetically to assume a stem cell-like state. This new type of stem cell is called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

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