Scientists at New York Stem Cell Foundation, Columbia U. Make Advance in Development of Patient-Specific Stem Cells

As reported on October 5th in Nature, for the first time scientists have derived embryonic stem cells from individual patients by adding the nuclei of adult skin cells from patients with type 1 diabetes to unfertilized donor oocytes.

A team of scientists led by Dieter Egli and Scott Noggle at The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Laboratory in New York City have made an important advance in the development of patient-specific stem cells that could impact the study and treatment of diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

The achievement is significant because such patient-specific cells potentially can be transplanted to replace damaged or diseased cells in persons with diabetes and other diseases without rejection by the patient’s immune system. The scientists report further work is necessary before such cells can be used in cell-replacement medicine.

The research was conducted in The NYSCF Laboratory in Manhattan in collaboration with clinicians and researchers at Columbia University Medical Center. DNA analysis was provided by scientists at the University of California, San Diego.

“The specialized cells of the adult human body have an insufficient ability to regenerate missing or damaged cells caused by many diseases and injuries,” said Dr. Egli, NYSCF senior scientist in the study. “But if we can reprogram cells to a pluripotent state, they can give rise to the very cell types affected by disease, providing great potential to effectively treat and even cure these diseases. In this three-year study, we successfully reprogrammed skin cells to the pluripotent state. Our hope is that we can eventually overcome the remaining hurdles and use patient-specific stem cells to treat and cure people who have diabetes and other diseases.”

“The ultimate goal of this study is to save and enhance lives by finding better treatments and eventually cures for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other debilitating diseases and injuries affecting millions of people across the US and the globe,” said NYSCF CEO Susan L. Solomon. “This research brings us an important step closer to creating new healthy cells for patients to replace their cells that are damaged or lost through injury.”

Read the full NYSCF press release here »

UPDATE: Read about TIME Magazine’s highlight of this research as the Number One Medical Breakthrough of 2011 »

Read the FAQ about this research here »

Read the Nature article here »

Read The New York Times coverage here »

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