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Scientists May Be Able to Create Hybrid Stem Cells

Scientists May Be Able to Create Hybrid Stem Cells

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Ed Yeates ReportingHarvard scientists have found a way to create laboratory stem cells that are ethically acceptable. The announcement comes only days before another announcement on upcoming stem cell transplants at a Salt Lake hospital.

University of Utah researcher Gerald Spangrude says the Harvard announcement diffuses somewhat the debate over stem cell studies, since scientists there created the new stem cell lines in the lab by fusing skin cells with embryonic stem cells now ethically accepted for use.

Dr. Gerald Spangrude, University of Utah Division of Hematology: "So in this case the cells that are already approved for use by President Bush in August of 2001 are the types of cells that could be used for this type of research."

Theoretically, these hybrid cells should also customize repairs of organs and tissue. Last year, the FDA approved clinical trials for cell transplants to regenerate and rebuild failing hearts, using mostly muscle stem cells. The track record so far looks good.

Dr. Geral Spangrude: "Patients who get these injected cells seem to have stronger hearts, more muscular activity in their hearts, and better heart function."

Later this week, Dr. George Russell Reiss at Salt Lake's V.A. Hospital will announce an even more exciting FDA approved clinical trial he's directing, one that will allow cell transplants in heart patients here which are cultivated from their own bone marrow.

As Dr. Reiss told us, unlike muscle cells, stem cells from bone marrow could rebuild whatever tissue they're committed to. If it's a heart muscle, they become heart muscle.

For the Salt Lake trials, the stem cells will be processed inside an 84-hundred square foot lab at the University of Utah Research Park. The patient's real failing heart would be allowed to rest for several weeks while the stem cell transplant heals the damage.

And we're not just talking about hearts. Another researcher at the VA hospital. Is looking at regenerating failing kidneys.

For patients whose time is running out, artificial heart assist pumps could be implanted temporarily while the stem cells make the repairs.

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