Two-year-old British girl Dakota Clarke can see for the first time after undergoing pioneering stem cell treatment in China.
Dakota, who was born blind, is the first British patient to undergo the new type of therapy.
The £30,000 treatment, which involves stems cells taken from an umbilical cord being fed into her forehead, has allowed her to see people, objects, colours and lights around her.
Dakota suffers from Septo-Optic Dysplasia, which means the optic nerve does not develop properly, and has responded quicker than expected to the treatment. Her parents, Wilma, 28, and dad Darren, 34, are hoping she will continue to improve and have a life time of sight.
Speaking from the Qingdao People’s Hospital in southern China, Mrs Clarke, from Newtownabbey. near Belfast, said: “We didn’t know if the treatment would work, and people kept telling us it was too experimental, but we had to do this.
“It’s been worth every single penny to see the changes in her.”
Mr Clarke added: “It’s nothing short of a miracle for us. She can see the world for the first time.
Stem cells from tiny embryos can be used to restore lost hearing and vision in animals, researchers said Tuesday in what they believe is a first step toward helping people.
One team repaired hearing in guinea pigs using human bone marrow stem cells, while another grew functioning eyes in tadpoles using frog cells.
While there are no immediate uses for humans, they said their findings help describe some of the most basic biological processes underlying the development of hearing and sight, and may help in the development of the new field of regenerative medicine.
“These discoveries illustrate stem cell research’s continuing extraordinary potential to treat a wide range of deadly and disabling diseases that affect millions,” said Anand Swaroop, a stem cell researcher at the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Sujeong Jang of Chonnam National University in Gwang-ju, South Korea, and colleagues used mesenchymal stem cells from human bone marrow to restore hearing in guinea pigs whose hearing had been destroyed using chemicals.
They grew the stem cells into neuron-like cells in lab dishes and then transplanted them into the inner ears of the guinea pigs. Three months later, the animals appeared to have some hearing, Jang told a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
Jang said the goal was to regrow the tiny hair cells that are essential for mammals to hear, although she is not sure yet how the stem cells made this happen.
They would eventually like to try something similar in humans, Jang told a news conference.
Imagine, if you can, a day within the next decade when a physician-scientist could remove a skin cell from your arm and with a few chemicals turn that fully formed adult cell into a dish of stem cells genetically matched to you.
That day came a giant step closer to reality on Oct. 12 with the publication in Nature Biotechnology of a report in which Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers describe successfully having used a chemical in place of half the gene cocktail currently used to reprogram adult cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
“This study demonstrates there’s a possibility that instead of using genes and viruses to reprogram cells, one can use chemicals,” said Doug Melton, HSCI co-director and senior author of the study, whose first author is Danwei Huangfu, a postdoctoral fellow in Melton’s lab.
“The exciting thing about Danwei’s work is you can see how one might be able to sprinkle chemicals on cells and make stem cells,” said Melton, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, giving his postdoc credit for the experiment.
This publication marks Huangfu’s second success employing chemicals in reprogramming: Last year, working with mouse cells, Huangfu used a chemical to improve the efficiency of the gene-induced reprogramming process.
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.
George Church is dyslexic, narcoleptic, and a vegan. He is married with one daughter, weighs about 210 pounds, and has worn a pioneer-style bushy beard for decades. He has elevated levels of creatine kinase in his blood, the consequence of a heart attack. He enjoys waterskiing, photography, rock climbing, and singing in his church choir. His mother’s maiden name is Strong. He was born on August 28, 1954.
If this all seems like too much information, well, blame Church himself. As the director of the Lipper Center for Computational Genetics at Harvard Medical School, he has a thing about openness, and this information (and plenty more, down to his signature) is posted online at arep.med.harvard.edu/gmc/pers.html. By putting it out there for everyone to see, Church isn’t just baiting identity thieves. He’s hoping to demonstrate that all this personal information — even though we consider it private and somehow sacred — is actually fairly meaningless, little more than trivia. “The average person shouldn’t be interested in this stuff,” he says. “It’s a philosophical exercise in what identity is and why we should care about that.”
As Church sees it, the only real utility to his personal information is as data that reflects his phenotype — his physical traits and characteristics. If your genome is the blueprint of your genetic potential written across 6 billion base pairs of DNA, your phenome is the resulting edifice, how you actually turn out after the environment has had its say, influencing which genes get expressed and which traits repressed. Imagine that we could collect complete sets of data — genotype and phenotype — for a whole population. You would very quickly begin to see meaningful and powerful correlations between particular genetic sequences and particular physical characteristics, from height and hair color to disease risk and personality.
University of Washington scientists have made significant progress toward learning how to repair severely damaged human livers with stem cells.
A team of UW researchers for the first time isolated liver stem cells from human fetuses, grew them in the laboratory for months and infused them in laboratory mice, where they replaced thousands of dead liver cells.
If the experimental work continues successfully in the years to come, the technique could one day repair livers badly damaged by drug overdoses, hepatitis and alcoholism.
From the current research, “we gained tremendous understanding of human embryology, cell origins and how the liver is put together,” Fausto said. “That kind of knowledge is absolutely crucial for future research.”
A British woman has become the first in the country to conceive a “designer baby” selected specifically to avoid an inherited cancer, The Times said Saturday.
The woman, who was not identified, used controversial genetic screening technology to ensure she does not pass on to her child the condition retinoblastoma, an hereditary form of eye cancer from which she suffers.
Doctors tested embryos created by the woman and her partner using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) methods for the cancer gene. Only unaffected embryos were implanted in her womb, the newspaper said.
Ofcourse you’re always gonna have people objecting to this, claiming it is not natural, that life is sacred and that we shouldn’t mess with it.
Nonsense I say. Cancer is also natural. Should we keep that? Most people would be glad to get rid of cancer. In this case, cancer has been prevented. Which is even better then getting rid of it.
Oh sure, life is sacred. But we get to decide for ourselves which life is sacred and which isn’t.
That’s a pretty sweet deal isn’t it? Know how we got it?
We made the whole f#cking thing up.
(courtesy of George Carlin, one of my favorite stand-up comedians)
Long live designer babies, genetic modifications, stemcell research, and all other things that piss off religiously insane, conservative, right-wing, fundamentalist nutjobs.