TORONTO, December 10, 2003 ( – New research from the University of Toronto has shown the potential for creating stem cells from human skin.

Stem cell research is a relatively new and emerging field in medicine. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which means they can be transformed into cells ordered to almost any bodily tissue. In theory, this may aid in the repair and regeneration of tissues previously thought irreparable; for instance, the brain in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, or heart tissue in heart attack sufferers, and so on. The skin cells in the Toronto research were turned into neural cells – cells that could be encouraged to turn into new brain cells for Parkinson’s disease or spinal neurons for spinal injury sufferers, for example.  Dr. Peter Hollands, an embryologist who now runs an umbilical cord blood bank in the Toronto area says that “common sense” dictates that resources be directed toward adult over embryonic stem cell research. “Embryonic stem cells have many legal, moral, ethical and religious objections before even the practicalities of obtaining the cells, growing them, storing them and not least transplanting them are addressed,” Dr. Hollands told in a recent interview. “Adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells are readily available, have no objections associated with them and are tried and tested in clinical use. Umbilical cord blood stem cells, for example, have been used over 3000 times for 45 different diseases!”  Adult stem cells to date have been harvested from bone marrow – a source that is painful and difficult to extract. This new advance would mean an improved, simpler source of adult stem cells and as well, a potential end to embryonic stem cell use and the killing necessary to create them. Because these stem cells are derived from a patient’s own skin, this ensures a perfect genetic match, without possibility of rejection and no need for life-long use of costly anti-rejection drugs.  Read more on the issue at:,,8122-926350,00.html