Stem cells will ‘change medicine forever’, says UB surgeon-turned-stem cell engineer

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Natesh Parashurama, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at the University at Buffalo is determined to place his emphasis on the translation of stem cell research from the laboratory to patients.

At present, Parashurama is conducting research on establishing 3D internal organs, similar to that of the liver and pancreas, from human stem cells. Cells from these tissues can be found from the endoderm, another target at his lab. The endoderm is one of three germ layers in the embryo, eventually developing some of the body’s most critical internal organs and tissues. He carried out one of the first studies to divide endoderm progenitor cells and make evident that they can develop 3D tissue in living animals, and coauthored one of the first papers illustrating how stem cells could inverse liver disease.

Further during an interview, Parashurama shared that the potential is endless with stem cells. It is a regenerative medicine. Most chronic disease in medicine could be responded by stem cells. They will change medicine forever. In addition, surgery with organ transplantation could be substituted by new organs from stem cells. At present, patients die on organ transplant waiting lists. In orthopedic surgery, surgeons could tap on stem cells to establish new ligaments in the knee or to procreate new limbs.

Stem cells are currently also being appropriated for study purposes and/or to overcome several human diseases including treatments for blood disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease and blindness from macular degeneration. A new achievement have been unlocked recently in the United Kingdom with reports demonstrating that the possible use of retinal progenitor cells to treat macular degeneration restore vision in patients.

California is recognised as the state with the most advanced stem cell initiative; and New York state should be investing in stem cell technology as well because stem cells are at the heart of all modern biological interfaces. Medical practitioners can now tap onto any cell in one’s body to create a human pluripotent stem cell, and that cell can become any cell in one’s body. In the near future, medical practitioners will be able to develop truly personalised medicine using these cells. This field has rapidly transformed in the last 15 years.

The Harvard Stem Cell Institute was established in 2004 with private funds. Concurrently, California invested $3 million to develop the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), a huge sum for research, education and training. In return, every state university in California and private institutions have established stem cell institutes or centers and started recruiting outstanding scientists and students. Globally, stem cell research is prominent in Europe, Australia, Canada and Asia. Stem cell science has significant influence in medicine and it allows us to better understand human development.

Source: Medical Xpress

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