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Scientists Produce Stem Cell Lines for 10 Diseases

The Harvard Shortcut: Making One Adult Cell From Another

Japanese Locate Stem Cells from Wisdom Teeth…

SCIENTISTS PRODUCE ETHICAL 'iPS' STEM CELL LINES FOR 10 DISEASES. Harvard scientists say they have created stems cells for 10 genetic disorders, which will allow researchers to watch the diseases develop in a lab dish.

This early step, using a new technique, could help speed up efforts to find treatments for some of the most confounding ailments, the scientists said.

The new work was reported online Thursday in the journal Cell, and the researchers said they plan to make the cell lines readily available to other scientists.

Dr. George Daley and his colleagues at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute used ordinary skin cells and bone marrow from people with a variety of diseases, including Parkinson's, Huntington's and Down syndrome to produce the stem cells.

The new cells will allow researchers to "watch the disease progress in a dish, that is, to watch what goes right or wrong," Doug Melton, co-director of the institute, said during a teleconference.

"I think we'll see in years ahead that this opens the door to a new way to treating degenerative diseases," he said.

The new technique reprograms cells, giving them the chameleon-like qualities of embryonic stem cells, which can morph into all kinds of tissue, such as heart, nerve and brain. As with embryonic stem cells, the hope is to speed medical research.

Research teams in Wisconsin and Japan were the first to report last November that they had reprogrammed skin cells, and that the cells had behaved like stem cells in a series of lab tests. Just last week, another Harvard team of scientists said they reprogrammed skin cells from two elderly patients with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and grew them into nerve cells.

Melton said the new disease-specific cell lines "represent a collection of degenerative diseases for which there are no good treatments and, more importantly, no good animal models for the most part in studying them."

A new laboratory has been created to serve as a repository for the cells, and to distribute them to other scientists researching the diseases, Melton said.

"The hope is that this will accelerate research and it will create a climate of openness," said Daley.

He expects stem cell lines to be developed for many more diseases, noting, "this is just the first wave of diseases." Other diseases for which they created stem cells are Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes; two types of muscular dystrophy, Gaucher disease and a rare genetic disorder known as the "bubble boy disease."

Daley stressed that the reprogrammed cells won't eliminate the need or value of studying embryonic stem cells.

"At least for the foreseeable future, and I would argue forever, they are going to be extremely valuable tools," he said.

The reprogramming work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and private contributions to the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

On the Net: Harvard Stem Cell Institute:
[7August 2008, Stephanie Nano, New York, AP,]

TAKE THE SHORTCUT: MAKING ONE ADULT CELL FROM ANOTHER. Harvard scientists report they have transformed one type of adult cell directly into another adult cell type, producing the specialized pancreatic beta-cells that secrete insulin.  In what some have called a "groundbreaking advance", three genes were added to pancreatic cells within living mice, and this was enough to directly change the cells into insulin-secreting cells. 

Though similar to the reprogramming technique developed by Yamanaka of Japan, this new application eliminates the need to form embryonic -like stem cells.  Doug Melton of Harvard reported on the experiments back in June, but this is the first peer-reviewed publication of the results, online in the journal Nature.

Harvard researchers had previously reported production of disease-specific cell lines using the Yamanaka technique. But embryonic types of stem cells continue to show problems forming mature, functional cells, as well as their tendency to form tumors. Melton has worked for years trying to make insulin-secreting cells from embryonic stem cells.

This new technique directly turns one type of fully formed adult cell into another type of adult cell, eliminating the problematic step back to embryonic stem cells. It also completely bypasses any need for using embryos or cloning for research.
[Posted by David Prentice on August 27, 2008;]

JAPANESE LOCATE STEM CELLS FROM WISDOM TEETH. Japanese scientists said 22August08 they had derived stem cells from wisdom teeth, opening another way to study deadly diseases without the ethical controversy of using embryos.

Researchers at the government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said they identified stem cells of the type found in human embryos using the removed wisdom teeth of a 10-year-old girl.

"This is significant in two ways," team leader Hajime Ogushi told AFP. "One is that we can avoid the ethical issues of stem cells because wisdom teeth are destined to be thrown away anyway.

"Also, we used teeth that had been extracted three years ago and had been preserved in a freezer. That means that it's easy for us to stock this source of stem cells."

The announcement follows the groundbreaking discovery by US and Japanese scientists last year that they could produce stem cells that are very similar to embryonic stem cells, from skin…

In the new research, cells were extracted from the wisdom teeth and developed for about 35 days.

The researchers then tested them and found that they were stem cells, which can develop into various other kinds of human cells, Ogushi said…

Ogushi estimated it would take at least five years to put the method into clinical use such as trial treatments of congenital bone disease.

"Because extractions of wisdom teeth are commonly operated in dental clinics, we can expect a lot of donors of stem cells," he said…

He was hopeful that the method would produce stem cells of various genetic codes — reducing the risk that patients' bodies would reject transplanted tissues or organs.

Theoretically, people who give up their wisdom teeth in their youth could use the stem cells later in life if they need treatment.

The research takes points from last year's skin cell breakthrough, which was a collaborative effort by researchers at Kyoto University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

The Kyoto University team, led by Shinya Yamanaka, generated human stem cells by introducing four genes into a sample of human skin. Ogushi introduced three of of the four genes identified by Yamanaka into the wisdom teeth. [22August08,

p?id=080822090616.cje0kojr&show_article=1; 23August08,]