Science and technology have utterly transformed human life in the past few generations, and forecasts of the future used to be measured in decades. But big changes arrive faster and faster these days. So here we've shifted our forecast to the near-term, because we're right on the verge of some extraordinary stuff. These are the trends and events to watch out for in 2013. See them all here.
During 2012, two scientific teams announced, in separate studies, that they had transformed ordinary adult skin cells into neural cells, a breakthrough that could change the course of human stem cell research. Stem cells hold enormous potential for medicine because they can develop from undifferentiated cells into a variety of specialized ones. But their use has been stymied by ethical concerns; most are harvested from human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.
In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka of Japan's Kyoto University figured out a way to bypass embryonic cells: He generated stem cells from skin cells, a discovery for which he shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine. But his method was slow and inefficient. The new techniques—pioneered by Marius Wernig of Stanford and Bronwen Connor of the University of Auckland in New Zealand—involve inserting genes into skin cells that force differentiation. Both efficient and scalable, the work could stimulate a cascade of follow-up research focused on developing other cell types in 2013.
Access to large numbers of specialized cells could change how doctors study disease and how pharmacologists test drugs, which could in turn bring about new treatments tailored to individuals. It could even lead to that holy grail of medical science: the ability to grow new tissue and organs from the patient's own cells, virtually eliminating the possibility of rejection.
While such benefits are hardly around the corner, Connor is optimistic that circumventing the use of embryonic stem cells has cleared the path. "I think we're on the cusp," she says. "There's no ethical concern. You take a skin biopsy and off you go."
Mr. Risen, you're very much behind times! Suzanne Somers re-grew her breast that was surgically removed due to cancer, using her own stem-cells, derived from her abdominal fat. Please keep up with modern times.
I believe Mr. Risen keeps us well informed with modern times.
What you should be careful about is the usage of the term "re-grew."
In Somer's case, she had a breast augmentation with procured stem cells from her abdominal fat. The mixture of her own stem cells and abdominal fat was accepted by her body as breast tissue and I'm sure even became breast tissue. There was no re-growing of any kind going on there. A far cry from growing a heart.
YEA Medical Science!
This will bring more medical cures!
I wasn't aware that this was ever not the case. It seems that adult stem cells have always posed no major ethical issues and had more potential to be anything other than cancer.
This is amazing. Many lives can be saved that are currently on the organ transplant list once this is perfected!
Where are the militants of alternative medicine?
Acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy etc...
If everyone want to know more about these kinds of cells, look up "iPS cells."
I think that using human embryos to generate stem cells, is not a bad idea because everyone will benefit from it. Many people are dying from diseases that do not have a cure, hovewer, now we have the option to find out more about how to grow new tissue and organs from the patient's own cell.