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Hemangioblasts Aiding Eye Damage Repair

Massachusetts-based company Advanced Cell Technology, is obviously thrilled with their landmark discovery of hemangioblasts or stem cells that repair arteries and regenerate blood.

According to the company,the stem cells made from human embryos can proceed on to hearts and arteries of mice and rats, and appear to start repairs. ACT claims to have devised a straightforward way to make blood vessel precursor cells out of the stem cells. The company plans to test them in humans.

Says Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of research and scientific development at ACT :"We figured out how to produce literally billions of so-called 'hemangioblasts' -- the mythical cell in the embryo that gives rise to our entire blood and immune system as well as to the blood vessels in our body. "We've also tested these cells in animals for the first time, and it turns out that they have incredible reparative potential, he added.

Embryonic stem cells are the ultimate master cell of the body, giving rise to all of the tissues and organs. The use of human embryonic stem cells is controversial because many people oppose destroying the embryo or in effect, an unborn child. The U.S. Congress has passed several bills that would expand federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research but President George Bush vetoed one and has said he will veto any more. Yet, companies working with private funding, such as the over-the-counter listed ACT, may do as they please.

Working with embryonic stem cells is not easy. For medical uses, researchers would like to partly differentiate them -start them down the road toward becoming a specific cell or tissue type. Another roadblock is that many of the current batches, or lines, of stem cells must be grown in a serum culture taken from animal blood. This can contaminate them with viruses.

Writing in the journal Nature Methods, Lanza's team said they found a way to grow and differentiate
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