Skin, hair… stem cells?

The Guardian is covering a new medical breakthrough involving miracle cures made from the patients’ own skin and hair:

People who are born with Fanconi anaemia are usually diagnosed in early childhood and rarely survive beyond 30 years old.

In a three-stage procedure, the researchers used gene therapy to fix the faulty DNA in the cells they had taken from patients. Next, they used a technique called cell reprogramming to convert these cells into healthy stem cells, which are unique in being able to grow into any kind of tissue in the body.

In the final stage of the process, the researchers grew the stem cells in petri dishes into early stage bone marrow cells, which in principle could be injected into patients to treat their condition.

“We haven’t cured a human being, but we have cured a cell,” said Juan-Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, who led the study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. “[But] in theory we could transplant it into a human and cure the disease.”