Stem Cells on the Medical Frontier

On Respectful Insolence, Orac examines the dangers posed by experimental stem cell treatments, which are often offered outside the United States in order to avoid regulatory oversight. Orac writes that stem cell therapy is “moving from cutting edge science to applied science” but treatments are not yet refined to the point of being safe and effective. In the case of Jim Gass, a stroke patient who sought stem cell therapy at clinics around the world, the intervention proved to be disastrous, as cells injected into his lower back grew into a cancer-like mass that left him paralyzed from the neck down. On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle reports new findings about the long-lived naked mole rat. Induced pluripotent stem cells from naked mole rats have an active gene that suppresses tumor growth, while in mice and humans the gene is not active. Dr. Dolittle concludes, “The hope is that this exciting research will lead to advancements in stem cell therapy that will make the process safer.”

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