Denver, Colorado (WiredPRNews.com) — Harvard scientists have announced that they have crafted stem cells for ten different genetic disorders which will allow researchers to keep watch on the development of diseases in lab dishes. With the help of this advanced technique, speed will be added to finding treatment methods for some of the most confounding diseases.
Dr. George Daley and his colleagues at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute made use of ordinary bone marrow and skin cells from people suffering from different diseases, including Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Down Syndrome for the production of stem cells. Doug Melton, the Institute’s co-director, said that as researchers will be able to see the disease developing in a lab dish, they will be able to keep a watch on what goes wrong.
The technique reprograms the cells, giving them a chameleon-like quality that can morph into any kind of tissues such as nerves, heart and brain. As with embryonic stem cells, they hope to speed up medical research. The research teams in Japan and Wisconsin were first to mention that they have reprogrammed skin cells, which behave like the stem cells through a lab tests series. Last week, another team of scientists from Harvard said that they have reprogrammed the skin cells of two elderly patients who have Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS and developed them to from nerve cells.
Melton said that the new cell lines which are disease specific are a representation of a compilation of degenerative diseases that have no good treatment methods and no good models of animals to study them. Melton said that a new lab has been constructed serving as a repository for these cells and distributing them for research to other scientists. Diseases for which the stem cells have been created are Type 1 or juvenile, diabetes, Gaucher disease, 2 types of muscular dystrophy, and bubble boy disease.
Daley also stresses that these reprogrammed cells will not eliminate the necessity or the value of carrying out a study on the embryonic stem cells. Private contributions to Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the National Institutes of Health funded the reprogramming work.