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Scientists develop 'test-tube diseases'

Scientists develop 'test-tube diseases'
8th August 2008

US researchers say they have developed an improved method for investigating a variety of diseases such as Parkinson's and muscular dystrophy in the test-tube, as opposed to in patients, according to findings published in the online Cell journal.

Although scientists have for some time been able to grow human cells in the laboratory from diseased patients, the cells have only a limited lifespan, Medical News Today reports.

It says researchers from Harvard Medical School have now devised a way of producing immortal cell strains and tissue types from diseased patients by converting them into pluripotent stem cells.

Lead researcher George Daley, who is based at Children's Hospital Boston, commented: "Researchers have long wanted to find a way to move a patient's disease into the test tube."

He stated that the new development "enables us to model thousands of conditions using classical cell culture techniques".

Meanwhile, scientists in Scotland recently announced they had discovered a new class of treatment for Alzheimer's disease which could represent a "major breakthrough" in combating the condition.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen working with Singaporean company TauRx Therapeutics said the rember treatment appeared to slow the progression of the disease by 81 per cent over the course of a year in patients with mild to moderate forms of the condition.

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