Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stem Cell Therapy To Monkey

A once paralyzed monkey has become the first case in which a small monkey recovered from a spinal injury.

Japanese researchers said Wednesday they had used stem cells to restore incomplete mobility in a small monkey that had been paralyzed from the neck down by a spinal injury. "It is the world's first case in which a small-size monkey recovered from a spinal injury using stem cells," Professor Hideyuki Okano of Tokyo's Keio University told AFP.

Okano's research team, which earlier helped a mouse get well its mobility in a similar treatment, injected so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into a paralyzed marmoset, he said.

The team placed four types of genes into human skin cells to create the iPS cells, according to Kyodo News. The injection was given on the ninth day after the injury, considered the most effectual timing, and the monkey started to move its limbs again within two to three weeks, Okano said.

"After six weeks, the animal had recovered to the level where it was jumping around," he told AFP. "It was very close to the normal level."

Scientists say the use of human developing stem cells as a treatment for cancer and other diseases holds great promise, but the process has drawn fire from religious conservatives and others who be in opposition to it.

Embryonic stem cell research is contentious because human embryos are destroyed in order to obtain the cells capable of developing into almost every tissue of the body.