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Australia Biotech

Transparent Fish Lead to Stem Cell Research Breakthrough 33

brindafella (702231) writes Australian scientists have accidentally made one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research, by studying the transparent embryos of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). The fish can be photographed and their development studied over time, and the movies can be played backwards, to track back from key developmental stages to find the stem cell basis for various traits of the fish. This fundamental research started by studying muscles, but the blood stem cell breakthrough was a bonus. They've found out how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), among the most important stem cells found in blood and bone marrow, is formed. The scientists are based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. The research has been published in the Nature medical journal. This discovery could lead to the production of self-renewing stem cells in the lab to treat multiple blood disorders and diseases.
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Transparent Fish Lead to Stem Cell Research Breakthrough

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  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @11:49AM (#47670869) Homepage Journal

    Actually, embryonic stem cell treatments--the few we've figured out--hardly work. They require immense timing of chemical signals, or else they simply turn cancerous.

    Pluripotent adult stem cells have been demonstrated to grow full tissue (such as layers of skin, kidney, etc.), and are theorized capable of producing full organs (whole kidneys, liver, heart). Bone marrow stem cells can be coaxed into producing a whole heart on a scaffold, i.e., by removing all muscle from a heart and seeding the connective tissue with some donor heart muscle and a pile of marrow stem cells. Growing the full organ independently is difficult; and growing an appropriate organ would present unique challenges (a scaffold organ grows into the size of the scaffold; a new organ would grow into a child's organ, which won't provide a heart for an adult body).

    Adult stem cells are often banked from umbilical cord and placenta for treating the child early in life. In adult life, we use drugs to stimulate the release of large amounts of bone marrow stem cells; this provides stem cells for chemotherapy recovery, as chemotherapy destroys all bone marrow. Both types have been used to regenerate damaged heart, spinal nerve column, bone marrow, and other tissues and organs. Stem cells rendered from the patient's blood also rapidly treat severe burns as a component of a spray-on tissue plasm (a slurry of material and marrow stem cells) that regenerates the destroyed skin without scarring.

    I was lampooning the huge political theater of embryonic stem cell research in the 2004 election cycle. The US is the only country with such minimal funding; yet even Russia only occasionally outputs an amusing, largely-faulty, academic hack. Russia makes large breakthroughs in adult stem cell treatments all the time, because such treatments are more viable and widely-applicable. The article makes such a big deal about HSCs because saying "stem cells" is played out, and we know "adult stem cells from bone marrow" already; wen need a new buzzword, and "embryonic" is a dead end without politics.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor