Tuesday, May 8, 2012

U of M pursuing ethical stem cell research with hopeful results

The following was released today, May 8.

MINNEAPOLIS — Stem cell research by the University of Minnesota has shown promise in treating muscular dystrophy without the destruction of human embryos. Published May 3 in Cell Stem Cell, the ethical research is being praised by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

"It is encouraging to see the U of M explore the amazing potential of non-embryonic stem cells in developing a treatment for muscular dystrophy," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "We look forward to further ethical stem cell discoveries from U of M researchers."

The research involves the use of iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells derived from human skin cells. The skin cells are reprogrammed to become pluripotent, or able to express the properties of embryonic stem cells. The U of M admits in its press release that "iPS cells have all of the potential of embryonic stem (ES) cells." These iPS cells have the added advantage of guarding against rejection, because the patient’s own cells are used rather than cells derived from a human embryo.

Other researchers have used ethical adult stem cells to develop treatments for more than 70 diseases and conditions, including cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, cancers, anemias and autoimmune disorders. Thousands of people are alive today because of treatments developed from adult stem cells.

"Adult stem cell research offers great promise for those suffering from debilitating diseases and conditions," Fischbach added. "The U of M is smart to draw from this rich source in its development of cell-based therapies."