As you can imagine, I don't like the idea of harvesting stem cells from fetal tissue. Fortunately, it looks like there may be another source of stem-cell-like cells: ordinary white blood cells.
A small company in London, UK, claims to have developed a technique that overturns scientific dogma and could revolutionise medicine. It says it can turn ordinary blood into cells capable of regenerating damaged or diseased tissues. This could transform the treatment of everything from heart disease to Parkinson's.Therapy based on stem cell regeneration will possibly be able to cure the effects of every disease currently known to man, including cancer and aging. Human trials are underway.
If the company, TriStem, really can do what it says, there would be no need to bother with conventional stem cells, currently one of the hottest fields of research. But its astounding claims have been met with bemusement and disbelief by mainstream researchers.
TriStem has been claiming for years that it can take a half a litre of anyone's blood, extract the white blood cells and make them revert to a "stem-cell-like" state within hours. The cells can be turned into beating heart cells for mending hearts, nerve cells for restoring brains and so on.
The company has now finally provided proof that at least some of its claims might be true. In collaboration with independent researchers in the US, the company has used its technique to turn white blood cells into the blood-generating stem cells found in bone marrow.
So lets say we're all eventually given the option of living forever in perfect health, barring death by unnatural causes. Would you take the pill?