Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time Magazine article "How the Coming Revolution in Stem Cells Could Save Your Life'

Recently an article was published in the Time magazine with title "How the Coming Revolution in Stem Cells Could Save Your Life". It describes new ways of creating stem cells. The methods involved includes manipulations of genes of otherwise normal tissue. Since each cell of our body contains DNA which is same that was present when we were embryos made of embryonic stem cells. After birth the "embryonicness" is not required and is suppressed due to suppression of genes responsible for it. Thus it may be possible to activate the "embryonicness" of these cells by activating such suppressed genes. Thus it is theoretically possible to work with embryonic-like stem cells without having to damage human embryos. However, such activation of previously suppressed genes to reactivate the embryonicness of cells tantamount to conversion of normal cells into cancer cells! Thus such embryonic stem cells carry high risk of tumor formation.

The adult stem cells however do not possess the characteristics of cancer cells. It is here where lies the potential of the Adult Stem Cells. According to Christian Drapeau, the StemTech's Chief Scientific Officer, "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." According to him, if genes are activated to transform characteristics of cell into embryonic stem cells, this would be against the nature's decree and "I think we are playing with very dangerous fire", says Christian Drapeau.. "We are essentially awakening chaos in a cell, we have no idea what this could bring", he adds.  Read full response of Christian Drapeau on his blog.

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