Although still in its early phases, stem cell research is producing some of the most promising advances in modern medicine, and the potential it may have for disease treatment in the future is simply astonishing. Research indicates that stem cells may be integral in treating a wide variety of diseases and medical conditions, including stroke, brain injuries, learning defects, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, arthritis, baldness, blindness and deafness, myocardial infarction, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, and several types of cancer.
A new breakthrough in understanding how stem cells differentiate may be one of the most significant contributions toward advancing this field in years. Scientists believed that stem cell differentiation was controlled by multiple, highly specific and complex chemical systems, each capable of producing only a limited variety of cells. The results of a new study say otherwise. A research team from the Genome Institute of Singapore, in collaboration with the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, discovered that the type of cell that a stem cell will eventually turn into is actually controlled by a single communication system. Using this system, called the Nodal/Activin pathway, scientists will be able to control the eventual type of tissue the stem cells will develop into, simply by adjusting the cell’s chemical environment.
Prior to this discovery, controlling stem cell differentiation often involved direct genetic modification of the cell, which came with a significant risk of the cell becoming cancerous. The new method will eliminate this risk, marking a major victory in advancing research in this field.
Dr. Kian Leong Lee, who led the study, says this finding “paves the way for advanced studies in cell regeneration and tissue repair, which could ultimately lead to its use in personalized medicine, where stem cells from the same patient could be manipulated to make other types of cells that are genetically matched to the donor.”
In addition to its potential applications for disease treatments, stem cells are now being recognized for their benefits in aiding cosmetic procedures. At Rejuvalife Vitality Institute, Dr. Berger uses a patient’s own fat-derived stem cells in fat transfer procedures to promote the viability and longevity of fat grafts. Since this process uses the body’s own materials, it also completely eliminates the risk of allergic reaction. Click here to learn more about how Rejuvalife uses a patient’s own cells to perform these remarkable procedures.