Encouraging new research published in Science indicates that stem cells can be used to cure sickle cell anemia. The study used iPS cells and was done in mice. The sickle cell mice were treated with iPS therapy, and cured of the sickle cell without complication. The expected complications of using iPS in treatment are rejection and tumor growth. Rejection was controlled in this experiment, because the cells were identical (because they came from the mice) and it has been 4 months and still no tumor development. There is a lot of support for using the iPS cells they come from skin, not from embroynic cells.
“Induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells, are virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. They can morph into all of the more than 200 cell types in the body but are derived from skin, not from embryos. Mouse iPS cells were first derived earlier this year, and scientists reported last month to great fanfare that they had created similar cells from human skin.”
Although it will be many years before this technique could start appearing in humans clinically, it is still promising. The sickle cell diseases are just one group of genetics disorders, thousands of other genetic disorders could potentially be helped with similar technology. Although these “alternative” stem cells are showing great promise, most prominent geneticists want to clear up any confusion about the cells. They are inferior to using embryonic stem cells. Hopefully the world will just appreciate this discovery for the medical miracle it is and not attempt to use it for propaganda. The iPS stem cells have been touted by President Bush and some religious conservatives as the perfect and equal alternative to stem cells. But in reality, embryonic stems would make the research far simpler and expedite the discovery process.
Scientists Cure Mice Of Sickle Cell Using Stem Cell Technique
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 7, 2007