(RxWiki News) Stem cell research may have seemed like science fiction when research first began 50 years ago. But that work has finally come to fruition with the isolation of a human blood stem cell in its purest form.
Such a discovery could aid scientists in producing cells capable of treating numerous debilitating diseases including cancer, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. The pure single stem cell is capable of regenerating the entire human blood system. The research was published in the journal Science.
"Ask your doctor how stem cells might benefit you."
Lead investigator John Dick Ph.D, a Canada research chair in stem cell biology and senior scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, equated the find to a needle in a haystack, considering the rareness of stem cells. He has been personally working on this discovery for nearly 25 years.
Dr. Dick noted that the new discovery is key to using stem cells in clinical applications, and that it helps provide a more "detailed road map" of the human blood development system.
The most successful use of stem cells remains their use for bone marrow transplants in leukemia patients. Each year thousands around the world receive such treatment. Though their clinical use is currently limited, stem cells could in the future help patients with a range of health conditions from stroke and traumatic brain injury to diabetes and muscle damage.
Scientists have been working to find the pure stem cell since research began in 1961, Dr. Dick said. Isolating the pure cell is especially important so that scientists and physicians can control and then multiply cells in a culture before transplanting them into patients.
The ability to regenerate stem cells is critical since a single donor sample is not enough for most patients.