Celebrating Progress in Regenerative Medicine

Nature comments on recent advances: "At the turn of the twentieth century, the promise of regenerating damaged tissue was so far-fetched that Thomas Hunt Morgan, despairing that his work on earthworms could ever be applied to humans, abandoned the field to study heredity instead. Though he won the Nobel Prize in 1933 for his work on the role of chromosomes in inheritance, if he lived today, the advances in regenerative medicine may have tempted him to reconsider. Three studies published this week show that introducing new cells into mice can replace diseased cells - whether hair, eye or heart - and help to restore the normal function of those cells. These proof-of-principle studies now have researchers setting their sights on clinical trials to see if the procedures could work in humans. ... You can grow cells in a Petri dish, but that's not regenerative medicine. You have to think about the biology of repair in a living system. ... Japanese researchers grew different types of hair on nude mice, using stem cells from normal mice and balding humans to recreate the follicles from which hair normally emerges. ... A second study using regenerative techniques helped to restore some vision to mice with congenital stationary night blindness, an inherited disease of the retina. ... [Researchers reprogrammed] cardiac fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes - the muscle cells of the heart that are permanently lost after a heart attack. The team used a retrovirus to deliver three transcription factors that induced the reprogramming in adult mice, and improved their cardiac function. ... These three papers are just the tip of the iceberg. By the time we grow old, doctors are going to look back and say, 'Can you believe people used to go bald, go blind or even have their leg cut off from vascular disease?' - and then the doctor will treat the problem with an injection of cells."

Link: http://www.nature.com/news/regenerative-medicine-repairs-mice-from-top-to-toe-1.10472


100 years from now, I hope I am asking "Can you believe people used to grow old and suffer from all these frailties and diseases as they wasted away physically and mentally? Can you believe that people used to imagine a ridiculous future with all sorts of wondrous technology where this ignominious fate nonetheless stalked every individual — where people did everything with their technology except save themselves?"

Posted by: Jose at April 19th, 2012 12:40 PM
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