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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Cadaver Brain Tissues Used to Make Stem Cells



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I reported here the other day on Shinya Yamanaka’s well deserved Nobel Prize for inventing induced pluripotent stem cells. Now, scientists have used the process–using cadaver brain cells–that may be of great use in studying neurological and mental illnesses. From the Fox News story:

Cells from corpses might play a key role in developing future stem cell therapies. Successfully reprogramming induced pluripotent stem cells so they behave like the cells they are meant to replace means that samples of the mimicked cells must be present for comparison. Cadavers can provide brain, heart and other tissues for study that researchers cannot safely obtain from living people. “For instance, we can compare neurons derived from fibroblasts with actual neurons from the same individual,” Hyde said. “It tells us about how reliable a given method for deriving neurons from fibroblasts is. That can be crucial if, for example, you want to create dopamine-making neurons to treat someone with Parkinson’s disease.”

Studying how induced pluripotent stem cells develop into various tissues could also shed light on disorders that are due to malfunctions in development. “We’re very interested in major neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, autism and mental retardation,” Hyde said. “By understanding what goes wrong with the brain cells in these individuals, we could perhaps help fix that.”

And not a dead embryo in sight.



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