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Browsing Posts tagged stem cell therapy

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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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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We have all heard of stem cells. These are the magical ‘starter cells’ that have the capacity to grow into any type of differentiated cell of the adult body. If given optimal growth conditions and with some amount of external hormonal supplementation, theoretically one can induce these multi-potent cells to grow into say liver cells, or brain cells for that matter.

The discovery of this unique potential of these cells led to the probability of using them for therapy. What If these stem cells could be harvested and grown externally in a medium and then transplanted into patients having a chronic dysfunction of cells or organs systems? This would indeed be a much-needed breakthrough in the field of therapeutics. Thus was born the idea of Stem Cell Therapy. The process of injecting stem cells into a person or organism to repair specific tissues or to grow organs is known as Stem Cell Therapy.

Over the years Stem cell research has progressed significantly and the latest news in this field stands testimony to the hard work and relentless research of scientists working in this field. The ReNeuron Group on the second of February, 2010, announced that the UK Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC) has given a “full and final Favorable Opinion to ReNeuron’s proposed first-in-man clinical trial with its ReN001 stem cell therapy for stroke.”  The GTAC is the national research ethics committee for gene therapy and stem cell therapy clinical trials in the UK. The ReNeuron Company is a Guildford (UK) based stem cell research company. This approval represents the final stage in a long process the company has been going to through to gain approval to test its expanded neural stem cell line on patients suffering from Ischemic stroke. In the official website, the company makes the following declaration:  ‘We have received regulatory and conditional ethical approvals to commence a ground-breaking Phase I clinical trial in the UK with our lead ReN001 stem cell therapy for disabled stroke patients. We are developing stem cell therapies for a number of other conditions, including peripheral arterial disease and diseases of the retina.’ continue reading…