Health Watch: Local Revolutionary Stem Cell Research
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Scientific advances happening in our area could change the future of medicine. Stem Cells are considered by many to be the future of medicine, with the ability to cure diseases. And now scientist have the ability to get stem cells, without using embryo’s, from some pretty amazing sources.
A beating heart cell made from a piece of skin.
“I am just so excited,” said Dr. Mike Christman, CEO and President of the Coriell Institute. Researchers at the Institute, in Camden, are on the front lines of revolutionary stem cell research. The process starts by injecting skin cells with four different genes.
That reprograms the cells genetic makeup and turns them in to embryonic-like stem cells.
“We would take that embryo like cell, grow it, and then we might add growth factors or we might add particular chemicals that would make it become a heart cell, or make it become a pancreatic cell, or make it become a liver cell,” said Dr. Christman. Experts say this will eventually allow doctors to use patients own cells to treat heart problems, neuro-degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, even diabetes.
“For insulin dependent diabetics their pancreatic cells fail to make insulin for the body and they need that for life. So injecting these cells in to an insulin dependent diabetic could in principle be a complete cure for the disease,” said Dr. Christman.
Within a year these researchers will be testing experimental drugs on the newly created cells.
“Measure whether these drugs are toxic to heart cells just in a petri dish and then discard those drugs that show toxicity, which is very expensive, potentially dangerous for those patients,” said Dr. Christman.
This could potentially get safer, newer drugs to patients more quickly.
Creating cells made from your own body means they won’t be rejected. And having the ability to make these new cells will also help researchers understand diseases better.
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Reported By: Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3