A British company is planning human trials of a new technique which it says can transform white blood cells into stem cells that can be used to treat leukaemia and a range of other diseases.
A British company is planning human trials of a new technique which it says can transform white blood cells into stem cells that can be used to treat leukaemia and a range of other diseases. London-based TriStem says the method it has developed eliminates the need for embryos and foetuses, rich sources of the stem cells that can develop into any cell type. The use of early embryos has been a major stumbling block in the use of stem cells. “TriStem has been claiming for years that it can take a half litre of anyone’s blood, extract the white blood cells and make them revert to a stem cell-like state,” New Scientist magazine reported.”The company has now finally provided proof that at least some of its claims might be true.” The company used the technique to turn white blood cells into stem cells found in bone marrow, and injected them into mice to produce different types of blood cells. It is due to report its findings in a peer-review journal in March. But some leading stem-cell researchers are sceptical about the company’s claims and say more proof is needed. TriStem has been granted permission to use the technology to treat a dozen patients with a bone marrow disorder called aplastic anaemia in an unnamed country, according to the magazine. “Senior government research collaborators in the country hosting the trial have asked for the location to be kept secret for now,” it said. Scientists at TriStem plan to use stem cells derived from tissue-matched donors for the trial. The results are due by March. “Within a week, we should find if the cells have taken,” said Dr Ilham Saleh Abuljadayel, a co-founder of the company.(Source: ABC Online News, New Scientist November 2003)