Adult Stem Cell Breakthrough in Australia
Back in March 2005 researchers at Griffith Universtiy in Australia announced startling new breakthroughs in adult stem cell research that can be turned into brain cells, liver cells, kidney cells and muscles cells. Details can be read at Griffith University's web site here, and is taken from the research team Eskitis Institute for Cell & Molecular Therapies. Quoting from the article:
In contrast to embryonic stem cells, which are thought to be able to give rise to all cell types in the body, adult stem cells are often argued to have lesser abilities. It is thought that the stem cells in tissue that regenerate, like the skin and blood and olfactory mucosa, can only give rise to the cells in that tissue, like skin and blood and olfactory mucosa. It is often argued that adult stem cells would not be as useful as embryonic stem cells for stem cell therapies. This new research turns this argument on its head.
This recently published research paper, which has drawn reaction form around the world, describes adult stem cells isolated from the olfactory mucosa, the sense organ of smell. Representing four years of work by a team led by Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, the paper demonstrates that these adult stem cells have similar abilities to embryonic stem cells in being able to turn into many different cells types, not just the cells of the sense of smell.
The stem cells from the human nose were able to give rise to new nerve cells, glial cells, liver cells, heart cells and muscle cells when growing in a dish. They gave rise to new heart, liver, kidney, brain, limb, and many other tissues when transplanted into a developing chick embryo. Stem cells from the rat nose also gave rise to new blood cells when transplanted into rats whose bone marrow stem cells were destroyed by irradiation such as cancer patients receive. These experiments show that the adult stem cells from the nose have the ability to develop into many different cell types, not just nerve cells, if they are given the right chemical or cellular environment. In this respect they are very similar to embryonic stem cells. They are very different from embryonic stem cells in one respect, they do not seem to grow in an uncontrolled way, either in the lab dish or after transplantation. It seems that their environment in the dish or after transplantation holds a strong control on the way they develop. For this reason they might be better candidates for cell therapies because they do not seem to form tumours or teratomas.
So these cells not only develop into a great variety of other cell types, they do so without the nasty side effects found in embryonic stem cells such as tumours. Moreover, the cells were easily and quickly obtained with minimal inconenience to the patient, and since they come from the same person into whom they will be implanted, there is no danger of rejection, negating the need to suppress the immune system.
My question is: This has been out for over two months, and is exciting Australia a great deal, why haven't we heard about it in North America?