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Stem cell development heralded as huge breakthrough

Stem cell development heralded as huge breakthrough
2nd June 2009

There has been a major breakthrough in the treatment of stem cells which could have a particularly beneficial effect on the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses.

A research team from the US and Spain recently reprogrammed skin tissue from people with a rare form of anaemia to create the stem cells, as well as ridding the sample of the genetic defect which causes the condition.

The breakthrough means that such reprogramming of cells and the correction of DNA could also potentially be used to treat other genetic components such as motor neurone disease and Parkinson's disease, improving the lives of older individuals.

Commenting on the breakthrough, Chris Mathew, professor of molecular genetics at King's College London, told the Times: "This is an important development for families with this rare, inherited blood disorder.

"The patients have low numbers of blood stem cells in their bone marrow, so there are very few target cells to correct by gene therapy."

This week, it was found that the most common brain cancer may originate in neural stem cells, highlighting how such technology could also help those affected by the condition.

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