Stem cell research is the next great leap in medicine. In the future, new tissue grown in a laboratory could replace a failing heart, or new cells take the place of damaged cells in the brain. Rather than using stem cells from embryonic sources, which opens difficult ethical and complicated scientific issues, scientists have been looking to adult human stem cells, culled from a person's own body. Adult stem cells are now being cultivated from various tissues in the body ― from skin, bones and even wisdom teeth.
At the forefront in this research is a team of scientists from Tel Aviv University and Scripps Research Institute in California. They recently reported a breakthrough on a new classification system for identifying pluripotent stem cells in human tissue. News about this system recently appeared in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.
Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into every distinct cell type in the developed human body. They hold great promise for use in drug development and the treatment of many devastating disorders.
Avoiding Cultural and Religious Controversy
"There is a huge interest in scientists taking skin cells or other body cells of a person, and then turning them into stem cells for creating new neurons in the brain," says Igor Ulitsky, a Ph.D. student at Prof. Ron Shamir's lab in the Blavatnik School for Computer Science, Tel Aviv University, who pioneered some of the research techniques. "Using a person's own stem cells is both ethically acceptable, and in some cases even better for regenerating tissue than embryonic stem cells."
Tel Aviv University research played a central role, creating new bioinformatics algorithms to analyze the data and put together the pieces of the puzzle. The result is, in effect, an encyclopaedia describing different stem cell types and their characteristics.
Before this breakthrough, made possible by
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University