Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One More Reason to Vote for Stem Cell Research

And hey, I was all for it before (I have deep fears of developing Alzheimer's. Probably every writer's fear). Now I'm personally invested.

Juvenile-onset diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. It can now be treated by transplanting beta cells taken from cadavers, using a technique called the Edmonton protocol. But many recipients suffer severe side effects because of the drugs they have to take to prevent their immune systems rejecting the foreign cells. Also, the supply of beta cells is limited – only 500 people have been treated so far.

Several teams around the world have now managed to derive insulin-producing cells from human embryonic stem cells (ESCs). While this might one day end the shortage of beta cells for transplantation, it is not a perfect solution.

My doctor mentioned this when we were chatting. He thinks it's about 10 years out. Knowing the FDA, however, I'd bet on 15-20. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'll post about some other stuff, I promise.

1 comments so far. Got something to say?

PerpetualBeginner said...

Regarding the stem cells. Much of the slow speed of new research comes from the tight regulations around ESC use. That may be changing shortly, which is pretty hopeful. See here:

Of course your comment on the FDA remains in force - but at least the new therapies will be there for them to delay, rather than being in somebodies head as a wonderful theory.