Hilary White

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Adult Stem Cell Discoveries Could Treat Alzheimer’s and Blindness

Hilary White

ORLANDO/ GWANGJU, February 14, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) -  A research team led by University of Central Florida professor Kiminobu Sugaya has discovered a compound related to DNA that could improve the results of stem cell treatments for Alzheimer’s patients. The research team found that treating bone marrow cells with the compound made adult stem cells more likely to turn into brain cells in experiments with rats. 

The findings are to be published in the March edition of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience journal. Professor Kiminobu Sugaya said, “By using a patient’s own stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells, we’re able to avoid the ethical concerns many people have about stem cell research.” 

In research with embryonic stem cells, experiments with human patients have caused serious and permanent medical side effects. Dr. Sugaya said of his research, “We also don’t have to worry about the immune system rejecting the new cells.” 

In the same experiments, Dr. Sugaya’s team found that the compound, called bromodeoxyuridine, was useful in coaxing stem cells to turn into retinal cells, a discovery that could help to treat blindness. 

In related news, researchers at South Korea’s Chosun university may have found a way to help the blind see with adult stem cell treatments. Professor Song Chang-hun told reporters Friday that he is asking the government for funds to further research into treating retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an irreversible degenerative disease that causes blindness in adults. Dr. Chang-hun said, “We plan to isolate stem cells from umbilical cord blood and inject them into retinal cells.”

RP is a disease of the eye that begins by blocking the eye’s ability to pick up light and is sometimes called, ‘tunnel vision’ because it starts by hampering peripheral vision. Approximately 1.5 million people suffer from RP around the world.    

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