What's Hot

What's Hot

December 1998

What's Hot Archive

December 16, 1998

Stem Cells Grown in Lab

Earlier this month researchers announced that after seventeen years of effort the mother of all cells, the stem cell, was successfully grown and reproduced in vitro (outside of the human body). "The possibilities are limitless . . Our stem cells can give rise to potentially everything, and they never die," said Dr James Thomson, chief researcher at the University of Wisconsin, one of the leading scientists involved in the research. The goal of the experiment was to multiply the stem cells before they differentiate. At any point, the cells could be removed and allowed to mature and take on specific functions. In this way it would be possible to grow any kind of tissue, such as heart muscle, bone marrow or brain tissue. "The potential for therapies is enormous," said Thomson. Another researcher, Dr John Gearhart of Johns Hopkins University stated, "When there is a serious injury or disease, a lot of the adult cells can't regenerate, but stem cells can replace that tissue, which is one of their biggest advantages." Thomson added, "We plan on using these cells to grow heart tissue that could replace diseased or dying heart muscle, not to grow an entirely new heart.'" But at a Toronto conference this year, scientists set the goal of growing an entire human heart within ten years.

—D Dye


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