Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Life Links 6/6/07

Adult stem cell research for visual disorders gets a grant - but will they get a long article in the Washington Post?

Yesterday, California's embryonic stem cell program announced it is giving grants totalling $50 million to various universities in California. $42.6 million is for the construction of labs and equipment while another $7.8 million is for training programs. None of the money appears to be slated for any actually research on embryonic stem cells.

James Sherley talks about embryonic stem cell research with the Wall Street Journal.
He thinks embryonic stem cells, to be useful, would have to be turned into adult stem cells first. In that case, he asserts, there is no need to rush into research with the embryonic cells.....

The transformation of an embryonic stem cell, he says, is a one-way street: Once one of the cells turns, say, into a pancreatic cell, it can't go back. That's different from adult stem cells, which typically divide into two -- one "differentiated" cell with a specific function and another stem cell. In this way, adult stem cells keep their own numbers steady, even as they regenerate the organ they belong to.

By contrast, tissue derived from embryonic stem cells would quickly wither away, contends Dr. Sherley, unless some of the embryonic stem cells first produced into a self-sustaining colony of adult stem cells. Or, he cautions, if the tissue stayed in a more primitive form, it would keep dividing uncontrollably and cause cancer. His conclusion: It's easiest and safest to start with adult stem cells.

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