Why are Pluripotent Stem Cells Important? Boston …

Posted: March 8, 2020 at 9:58 pm

First, by their nature, pluripotent stem cells can potentially be used to create any cell or tissue the body might need to counter a wide range of diseases, from diabetes to spinal cord injury, to childhood leukemia, to heart disease.

Second, pluripotent stem cells can potentially be customized to provide a perfect genetic match for any patient. This means that patients could receive transplants of tissue and cells without tissue matching and tissue rejection problems, and without the need to take powerful immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of their lives. Although this vision hasnt yet been achieved, researchers at Boston Childrens Hospital have successfully treated mouse models of human disease using this strategy and hope that the same can be done with patients.

Disease in a dish:Third, pluripotent stem cells make excellent laboratory models for studying how a disease unfolds, which helps scientists pinpoint and track the very earliest disease-causing events in cells. Immune deficiencies, Type 1 diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and myriad other disorders are rooted in fetal development. In the lab, researchers can recapture these early originsobserving where the first muscle cell comes from, or the first blood cell, and how this differs when the patient has a genetic disease. Using this information, doctors may be able to intervene and correct the genetic defect before the disease advances.

Unique applications:Each type of pluripotent stem cell has different characteristics that make it useful in different ways, and each has different lessons to teach.

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