I have always maintained that the more progress that adult stem cell researchers make, the harder it will be for mainstream media outlets to maintain their news blockade that has prevented important success stories from reaching the public consciousness. This New York Times report, hopefully, is a harbinger of better journalism to come. Skin stem cells have been transformed into blood vessel tissue and used to treat patients. From the story:
From a snippet of a patient’s skin, researchers have grown blood vessels in a laboratory and then implanted them to restore blood flow around the patient’s damaged arteries and veins…
The skin biopsy takes about 15 minutes. Under local anesthesia, a doctor removes a piece of skin, including a strip of vein about an inch long, from the back of the hand or inner wrist. Then technicians use enzymes to extract fibroblast cells from the skin and endothelial cells from the inner lining of the vein. The cells are grown by the millions as sheets in a laboratory. The fibroblasts provide a mechanical backbone for the sheets that are peeled and rolled into a tube.
Eventually, these tissues would then be used in the needed treatments. According to the Times’ story, this procedure could be used to save the fingers and toes of diabetes patients or treat congenital heart defects in children, as just two examples.
We are on the verge of tremendous medical progress–and most of it is entirely ethical. Bravo!