October 2015

Stem Cells in Media

Over the past decade their has been a swell of excitement surrounding the potential use of stem cell therapy to treat a range of illnesses and diseases. And the list keeps growing. In this article I'll outline some news stories from 2015 that highlight the exciting research being done in this field.

Three-parent IVF has been one of medical sciences' most ethically contested developments in the past few years. The good news for the sceptics is that, as The Telegraph reported this year, stem cell research was being conducted to battle mitochondrial diseases. Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov and his team have shown in their research how it may be possible to use the cells from patients with mitochondria to regenerate their own damaged cells. They hope this will ''eventually allow mothers at risk of passing on mitochondrial disease to use their own healthy mitochondria to repair their eggs''. This seems like a big step towards reducing the need for three parent IVF in the near future.



It was reported by The Guardian this year that stem cell therapy would be trialled in the UK to tackle lung cancer. 40,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK every year. Doctors talk of how the effects of using chemotherapy to tackle it are minimal and very short term. The hope is through this research that stem cells from bone marrow can be modified to activate a gene named Trail, which is known to be able to bind to cancerous tumours and eventually destroy them. This will be the first time cell therapy has been used for treatments on lungs.




Another exciting development being developed in stem cell research is the ability of these cells to regenerate organs. As the BBC reported in March, test had been conducted showing how severely damaged organs in mice could be restored to near normal function. The team from the University of Edinburgh have been focusing their research on the regenerative potential of the liver, and are excited by the progress being made in this area.



Researchers at the University of California have for the first time used stem cells to create miniature organs. In the article we can see a video showing a functional model of a human heart ventricle. The hope for this exciting development is that in the future scientists will be able to use these human-like hearts for medical research. Specifically, Professor Kevin Healy hopes this technology will allow for scientists and doctors to be able to better determine which drugs are dangerous during pregnancy.