The objections surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells in organ and tissue reconstruction could be silenced if clinical trials for a new strain of stem cells derived from liposuctioned fat get a nod of approval from the FDA. And if they do, their first order of business will probably be growing bigger breasts.
The push-pull between the Obama administration and U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth over the government's funding of embryonic stem cell research has swung back the other way, at least temporarily lifting the temporary injunction blocking federal funding for embryonic stem cell research that was issued last month.
Researchers at dozens of labs across the country are scrambling today to figure out exactly where their research stands and if feeding their cell cultures is even legal after a ruling handed down yesterday by a federal judge blocked President Obama's 2009 executive order expanding the scope of embryonic stem cell research. At issue: Whether or not Obama's policy violates a federal ban on federal money contributing to the destruction of embryos. At stake: A whole lot of ongoing medical science that could be cut down in stride.
Human pluripotent stem cells – the kind that can become any kind of specialized cell and therefore be used to treat pretty much any kind of cellular damage – hold seemingly limitless promise if only we could manipulate them in useful quantities. Now, researchers at MIT have overcome a major obstacle to both stem cell study and eventual stem cell treatments by creating a synthetic surface that enables stem cells to live and multiply for months, producing clinically-useful quantities of identical cells.
Last week, the FDA gave biotech firm Geron the green light to proceed with clinical trials of an embryonic stem cell treatment for spinal cord injuries. But while we wait on promising embryonic stem cell research to clear political and regulatory hurdles, adult stem cell research is trucking right along. Yesterday it was announced that Iraq War veteran and Marine Matt Cole, paralyzed from the chest down since a 2005 insurgent attack in Iraq, has enrolled as the first patient in the first FDA clinical trial of adult stem cells used to treat spinal cord injuries.
A long-term study by Italian researchers shows that stem cells can help restore vision in eyes that have been blinded by burns. Moreover, the restored vision remained stable over 10 years.
Patients whose eyes have suffered heat or chemical burns typically experience severe damage to the cornea -- the thin, transparent front of the eye that refracts light and contributes most of the eye's focusing ability. The Italian technique uses stem cells taken from the limbus, the border between the cornea and the white of the eye, to cultivate a graft of healthy cells in a lab.
Liver disease is the 12th-leading cause of death in the U.S., chiefly because once it's determined that a patient needs a new liver it's very difficult to get one. Even in cases where a suitable donor match is found, there's no guarantee a transplant will be successful. But researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have taken a huge step toward building functioning livers in the lab, successfully transplanting culture-grown livers into rats.
In Popular Science's July issue, we look at the phenomenon of stem-cell tourism: patients who head overseas for experimental medical treatments unavailable in the U.S. For the article, I spent a few days checking out Regenocyte, a Florida-based medical operation that coordinates experimental stem cell treatments in the Dominican Republic.
Now another developing country known for courting overseas patients -- Costa Rica -- has discontinued stem cell procedures at its biggest clinic, the Institute of Cellular Medicine (ICM) in San Jose, which has treated about 400 people since it opened in 2006.
It's 2:30 in the afternoon in the Dominican Republic, and Karen Velline, a 66-year-old grandmother from Cold Spring, Minnesota, is lying on an operating table, swaddled in sterile surgical sheets. She's just moments away from a procedure so experimental that no doctor will perform it on U.S. soil. Yet she calmly stares up at the ceiling, more excited than anxious.
The loss of a tooth is a minor deformity and a major pain. Although dental implants are available, the healing process can take months on end, and implants that fail to align with the ever-growing jawbone tend to fall out. If only adult teeth could be regenerated, right?
According to a study published in the latest Journal of Dental Research, a new tissue regeneration technique may allow people to simply regrow a new set of pearly whites.