Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stem Cell Alchemy

Some people's most fervent wish is everlasting happiness.

Good luck with that!

Others altruistically yearn for world peace.

Again, mazel tov...

My fondest desire? A functioning pancreas.

Well, I have as much chance of achieving everlasting happiness and world peace as I do with that, but according to an article in today's Washington Post, Harvard biologists have discovered the next best thing: functioning beta cells.

Through a series of painstaking experiments involving mice, the Harvard biologists pinpointed three crucial molecular switches that, when flipped, completely convert a common cell in the pancreas into the more precious insulin-producing ones that diabetics need to survive.

The feat, published online today by the journal Nature, raises the tantalizing prospect that patients suffering from not only diabetes but also heart disease, strokes and many other ailments could eventually have some of their cells reprogrammed to cure their afflictions without the need for drugs, transplants or other therapies.


Maybe in five years or so, I'll be able to scratch "functioning pancreas" off my list and replace it with "world peace."

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