Saturday, November 18, 2006

Progress with Stem Cells?

Stem cells are producing promising results these days. Adult stem cells, that is. For people with blocked arteries, a growth factor called GMCSF, when injected into the body, stimulates bone marrow to release more stem cells and enables new arteries to be grown. Tests have shown a 60 percent improvement in blood-vessel function as a result.

Blindness caused by outside factors often cannot be repaired with corneal transplants, yet stem cells offer new hope. While not yet producing perfect vision, patients can become self-dependent again. They are able to see well enough to do the basic tasks of life.

Tests in mice have yielded a way to spur the growth of neural stem cells in the brain - possibly paving the way to treating or curing Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. Key in all three of these stories is that using one's own stem cells, rather than those of another, prevents the body's immune system from rejecting them, much like a transplanted organ. It is becoming clear that the hope for an Alzheimer or Parkinson cure comes from adult stem cells, not embryonic ones.

Outside the U.S., in Portugal, physicians have actually succeeded in partially regenerating various internal human organs, using adult stem cells.

Meanwhile, we're still waiting for a any success story from the use of embryonic stem cells. We'll try to keep you posted.