It is really quite remarkable how impressively research in to adult stem cells have advanced. Now, animal studies show that they might be used to help prematurely born babies grow lung tissue. From the story in Science Daily:
An international team of scientists led by Dr. Thébaud has demonstrated for the first time that stem cells protect and repair the lungs of newborn rats. “The really exciting thing that we discovered was that stem cells are like little factories, pumping out healing factors,” says Dr. Thébaud, an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Clinical Scholar. “That healing liquid seems to boost the power of the healthy lung cells and helps them to repair the lungs.” In this study, Thébaud’s team simulated the conditions of prematurity — giving the newborn rats oxygen. The scientists then took stem cells, derived from bone marrow, and injected them into the rats’ airways. Two weeks later, the rats treated with stem cells were able to run twice as far, and had better survival rates. When Thébaud’s team looked at the lungs, they found the stem cells had repaired the lungs, and prevented further damage.
Ethical stem cell research is rocking and rolling. Also, note the need for using animals in research to develop this potentially ground-breaking regenerative medical technique. I wonder how animal rights activists would conduct this exploration without rats or other animals? Or should it just be dropped? Hello?