The potential of stem cell biology in the battle against human disease has captured the public imagination. Scientists are engaged in a hunt to identify molecules that aid their unique ability to self-renew and to differentiate, and to understand these mechanisms in order to exploit them therapeutically.
An Insight in the 29 June 2006 issue of Nature (Vol. 441, No.7097) provides an overview of the field and its promise. The proposed use of stem cells to generate replacement cells for damaged heart muscle and neural and glial cells in the brain to combat neurodegeneration has been much heralded, but what will it take to translate the advances from the laboratory to the clinic?
Transplantation of haematopoietic stem cells to treat blood and immune disorders has proved successful for decades but are difficult to sustain. It is important to improve not only accessibility to treatments, particularly in developing countries, but also protocols and understanding of such uses of these cells.
Finally, as tissue regeneration potential declines with age, scientists are trying to understand whether this is due to the ageing of stem cells or to the impairment of their function in the ageing tissue environment. Greater knowledge of the role of stem cells in these processes is vital if the emerging field of regenerative medicine and tissue injury is to come close to meeting expectations.
The full details of this Insight and the contact details of authors are listed below:
Nuclear reprogramming and pluripotency
Rudolf Jaenisch (Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Asymmetric and symmetric stem-cell divisions in development and cancer
Sean J Morrison (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
The stem-cell niche as an entity of action
David T Scadden (Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Stem cells, ageing and the quest for immortality
Thomas A Rando (Stanford University, CA, USA)
Generation of neuronal variability and complexity
Fred H Gage (The Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA)
Stem cells for the treatment of neurological disorders
Olle Lindvall (Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund, Sweden)
Potential of stem-cell-based therapies for heart disease
Deepak Srivastava (University of California San Francisco, CA, USA)
Stem-cell therapies for blood diseases
Claudio Bordignon (Istituto Scientifico HS Raffaele, Milan, Italy)
FREE ACCESS to the Articles are available online at Insight Articles.
Nature Podcast Special: stem cells
To accompany the Nature Insight on stem cells, we have produced a special podcast featuring interviews with authors, reports from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Prague, and a live panel discussion on the scientific and ethical issues that are emerging with the latest stem cell research.
The Nature Podcast Special: stem cells is hosted by BBC World Service presenter Gareth Mitchell, and Allan Coukell, science reporter at WBUR, Boston's NPR news station, with conference reporting from Nature's News Editor Jo Marchant. The show features interviews and debate with leading stem cell scientists including Amy Wagers, Tom Rando, Fred Gage, Robert Lanza and many others.
This show is a special edition of the Nature Podcast series, will be available free at www.nature.com/podcast/stemcells.
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza