james debate
james debate

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Well, for anyone who thought America could really afford to disregard the value of science and progress for a decade and still remain at the forefront of development, this article is a wake up call. A team of frontier researchers in Glasgow have recently announced that they are to start a trial designed to examine the usefulness of embryonic stem cells in treating stroke patients.

glasgow stem cell research stroke

Stroke patients show damage to tissue in the brain as a result of a disruption of of blood supply. This invariably leads to a decline in brain function.

The difficulty in treating this is that brain tissue naturally doesn't really have a repair or renewal function, which means that once damage is done, it can not be repaired.

One hypothetical way to fix this is by using the base stem cells that our brains develop from after we are born to generate new brain tissue and neurons. It is a technique that has been shown to be effective in animal testing, but clearly use on people is an entirely different matter.

However, now for the first time we are going to see trials on actual human patients to see if it works. I don't have to explain to you that this could be huge, with the potential to help many many people, not just those with strokes, but those with other conditions involving neuronal damage, and if the principle is sound, other unrelated conditions.

It is an exciting time for medical researchers, and most will tell you that we are currently going through the medical equivalent of the industrial revolution. Stem cell research presents perhaps the most interesting of these frontiers with near limitless potential that could extend life expectancy for several years, hypothetically able to treat any systemic damage.

And yet these exciting developments are being made in Scotland, as opposed to the biggest and richest (and formerly most cutting edge) nation on the planet. We have Bush and his bible waving cronies to thank for that, and as Obama takes office with the intent to return American scientists to the forefront of research one can only wonder what the world would be like today if we had taken this approach eight years ago. Sigh.

Newer Post Older Post Home