Big news today with more advances with iPS cells.

Harvard and Columbia scientists have for the first time used a new technique to transform an ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) patient’s skin cells into motor neurons, a process that may be used in the future to create tailor-made cells to treat the debilitating disease. The research – led by Kevin Eggan, Ph.D. of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute – will be published July 31 in the online version of the journal Science.

This is the first time that skin cells from a chronically-ill patient have been reprogrammed into a stem cell-like state, and then coaxed into the specific cell types that would be needed to understand and treat the disease.

Though cell replacement therapies are probably still years away, the new cells will solve a problem that has hindered ALS research for years: the inability to study a patient’s motor neurons in the laboratory.”

And this from Nature News today:

“The study shows that iPS cells can be made even from octogenarians with a chronic neurodegenerative disease, although making human iPS cells may be more difficult the older the patient is. Eggan’s team was able to generate seven cell lines from the 82-year-old and one line from her 89-year-old sister — the team went on to characterize just the former’s cells.

The paper is expected to be the first in a wave of publications describing the generation of iPS cells from patients with specific diseases. Although results are not yet reported in the peer-reviewed literature, posters at a stem-cell meeting in June described iPS cell lines from people with Alzheimer’s disease, Down’s syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and more.”

Ethical advances in regenerative medicine. Great news.

Author Profile

Jennifer Lahl, CBC President
Jennifer Lahl, CBC President
Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.