What are the New Discoveries?
embryonic stem cells (hES cells) are cells that are self-renewing--virtually
immortal--and have the capacity to develop into any or all tissue types in the
human body. If medical scientists could gain the ability to turn on selected
genes to grow selected tissues and organs for transplantation, hES cell-based
therapies would revolutionize treatment of degenerative age-related diseases
such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.
recent claims of laboratory triumph are relevant. First is the isolation of
human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) by James Thomson, an associate
veterinarian in the University of Wisconsin's Regional Primate Research Center.
Thomson began with fertilized ova--spare embryos from in vitro fertilization
(IVF) not placed in a uterus--and cultured them to the blastocyst stage, about
four to six days. At this point he removed the outer shell of the blastocyst,
separated out the individual cells, and placed them on a feeder tray. The cells
divided. They reproduced themselves. Because these cells are as yet
undifferentiated--that is, they are pluripotent and able to make any part of a
human body--they are the cells from which other cells stem. Because they
replicate themselves indefinitely, Thomson in effect created an immortal line
of embryonic stem cells.
John Gearhart, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine, drew human embryonic germ cells (hEG cells) from
fetal gonadal tissue. These cells, when taken from an aborted fetus, resemble
in nearly all respects the pluripotent stem cells described above.I will provide more detail on the Gearhart discovery in the description that
link | Printer-friendly | Feedback
| Contributed by: Dr. Ted Peters