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Adult Stem Cells Can Fight Diseases

Adult stem cells, which can be effectively fused with other cells to work elsewhere, can be useful in fighting diseases, according to a study.//

Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University have found evidence that adult cells may be useful in fighting disease.

The researchers, headed by Markus Grompe, showed that mice with a disease called tyrosinemia type 1, which causes jaundice and cirrhosis of the liver, can be cured by infusing their livers with bone marrow stem cells, the online edition of BBC News reported.

Analysis suggested the cells had reverted to the right number of chromosomes - the first time this had been seen outside of insects. However, why this happened was not clear.

Grompe is now investigating whether it is possible to use a signalling molecule, called insulin-like growth factor 1, to speed up the process as it is too slow to be effective on many human conditions.

Stephen Minger, director of the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory at King's College London, said there are few stem cells that can fuse like this, with bone marrow stem cells being one.

"But I am not sure how useful it is to spend time on this, when other sources such as embryonic stem cells have the potential for much more.

Embryonic stem cell research had drawn flack in US with its critics raising ethical questions as it intrinsically involves destruction of the embryo.

As a result scientists - particularly in the US where state funds cannot be used to fund embryonic stem cell research - have been exploring ways of treating disease with stem cells using adult cells.

Previous research had shown that adult cells can be fused with cells from other parts of the body.

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