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Stem cell research: From molecular physiology to therapeutic applications
Date:7/29/2009

Stem cell research promises remedies to many devastating diseases that are currently incurable, ranging from diabetes and Parkinson's disease to paralysis. Totipotent embryonic stem cells have great potential for generating a wide range of different human cells that can be used to restore malfunctioning or damaged cells and tissues in patients. Recent studies have shown that pluripotent stem cells derived from adult bone marrow, the umbilical cord and the placenta could also be induced to differentiate into a variety of different tissues. In this issue, we have invited several scientists in China to summarize their pioneering works in the stem cell research field.

Since 2001, Dr. Alex Yu Zhang has been a professor at Capital Medical University in Beijing and is Director of Cell Therapy Center at Xuanwu Hospital. His current research interest focuses on the understanding of basic biological properties of stem cells and developing nonhuman primate models for stem cell-based therapy of degenerative diseases. He has developed a stem cell mediated expression system for treating Parkinson's disease and his research using pancreatic progenitor cells for treating diabetes has demonstrated efficacy in monkey models. Professor Zhang has written an overview of cell replacement therapy of Parkinson's disease, which has been studied in both animal models and human patients for more than 20 years. Recent progress in stem cell biology has indicated that it is possible to avoid immunorejection of either nuclear transfer embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells. On the other hand, recent post mortem analysis of patients who received fetal brain cell transplantation revealed that implanted cells are prone to degeneration just like endogenous neurons. Thus it appears that future cell replacement studies will have to focus on ameliorating disease symptoms as well as on slowing the progression of the disease[1].

Professor Robert Chunhua Zhao from the Chinese
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Contact: Li Jiyuan
ljy@scichina.org
Science in China Press
Source:Eurekalert

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