Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comments on Time Magazine Revolution In Stem Cells Article

Time magazine recently featured an article on Stem Cells in the Feb 9th 2009 issue.

Below is a comment by Christian Drapeau, from his blog. Mr. Drapeau has been the Director of Research and Development at Cell Tech International and then Desert Lake Technologies, before co-founding STEMTech HealthSciences and becoming its Chief Science Officer.

February 18, 2009 by Christian Drapeau.

"The key point of the Time magazine article How the Coming Revolution in Stem Cells Could Save Your Life is the description of a recently developed new way of creating stem cells, by manipulating a few genes of an otherwise normal tissue cell.

In brief, each cell of the body contains the very same DNA that was present when every one of us was just an embryo made of embryonic stem cells. Therefore, the “embryonicness” that is so characteristic of embryonic stem cells, that is their ability to proliferate and become cells of virtually all tissues, is still present in each cell of our body.

However, since this “embryonicness” is no longer needed after birth, that part of the genome is suppressed. A few years ago, Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese scientist, identified four genes that essentially encode for this “embryonicness”. Therefore it is possible to transform a normal cell of the body into an embryonic-like cell by activating these genes. So in theory it is possible to work with embryonic-like stem cells without having to damage human embryos.

The problem with this is that this is exactly what a cancer cell is, a rogue cell that has hijacked the “embryonicness” present in the DNA. The main problem with embryonic stem cells is the high risk of forming tumor cells. The genes responsible for their “embryonicness” are suppressed after birth to prevent the formation of abnormal tissue –essentially cancer- that would soon or later mean death. So nature in its wisdom has specifically developed a way to suppress these genes to prevent disease formation after birth.

When these genes are added or activated, against nature’s decree, I think we are playing with very dangerous fire. We are essentially awakening chaos in a cell, we have no idea what this could bring.

This brings us back to the discussion about the great potential of adult stem cells. To some extent it is true that adult stem cells are limited to becoming cells of the tissue in which they find themselves, but this is precisely why they carry such great promise. Unlike embryonic stem cells that can become all cells types and therefore create tumors, adult stem cells will only become cells of the tissue in which they find themselves.

It is not that they are intrinsically limited, as they do have the ability to become cells of virtually any tissue, but after migrating in a tissue they do become limited to the tissue in which they find themselves. So with adult stem cells we have the regenerative potential of making new tissue without the risk of tumor formation.

There is no doubt in my mind that the future of stem cell is with adult stem cells."

Watch Christian Drapeau on video giving more info on adult stem cells discoveries and enhancers for it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009