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Using Your Own Stem Cells One of the most exciting areas in biomedical research today is using stem cells to treat highly challenging medical conditions. There are studies on reversing Parkinson's disease, repairing spinal cord injuries and enabling joint regeneration.

Many of you may know because of a federal funding freeze, most U.S scientists were not able to work on new embryonic stem cell lines for the past eight years. But it did force them to develop powerful new therapies using adult stem cells.

It's pretty amazing actually. One procedure is capable of directing stem cells in an individual to repair their own tissues and organs.

It does so by using a drug called Mozobil which mobilizes hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. They're then collected and could be used to re-populate a cancer patient's bone marrow after chemotherapy.

And it doesn't stop with cancer treatment. In research with mice, scientists were also able to use Mozobil in combination with other growth factors to produce different types of stem cells. One is called mesenchymal stem cells and the other endothelial progenitor cells.

That's where this gets exciting. Mesenchymal stem cells can develop into muscle and bone cells. That means it may be possible to repair the heart muscle, skeletal muscle or to enhance the healing of broken bones.

Endothelial progenitor cells can repair or help generate blood vessels in the recovery from heart attacks and strokes.

What's phenomenal about this new approach is that instead of enriching stem cells and then reinjecting them into the body, this is all happening within the body!!!!

That avoids the legal and ethical issues associated with the embryonic stem cell debate.

That's right — but because embryonic stem cells hold such great potential, more research must continue in this area.

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For more information…

Drugs unlock the body's own stem cell cabinet
Article from the "New Scientist" describing the process of using a combination of drugs to induce the production of stem cells directly in individuals.
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Stem Cell Basics
From the National Institutes for Health resource for stem cell research, this is an extensive site with a wealth of basic information about stem cells, current research and policy and ethical issues surrounding their use.
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Stem Cell Center
Web site from our colleagues at the Texas Heart Institute about studies using adult stem cells in heart disease.
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