November 8, 2003
Stem Cell Research
Stem cells are located deep down in our bone marrow. They have the incredible ability of "generating an endless supply of red cells, white cells, and platelets"(1). They have been called the "Mother of all blood cells" due to their ability to regenerate the entire blood supply of a persons body. Just to think that this is possible is actually pretty incredible. The man who claims to be responsible for the discovery of this gem is a immunologist from Stanford University named Irving Weissman, and his collaborators at SyStemix, (a biotech company that he cofounded in 1988, located in Palo Alto, CA). He and his company are so confident about these cells, not only have they obtained a government patent on the process by which these specific cells are separated from other cells, they have also patented the cells themselves. They have even convinced Sandoz Ltd. (a giant Swiss drug-and-chemical company) to purchase 60 percent of the stock for SyStemix for a reported 392 million dollars.
Stem cells are very valuable for many reasons, some of which are as follows: by giving patients the ability to make an entirely new supply of blood, they make it possible for the immune system to regenerate itself. In doing this, it could feasibly allow medical breakthroughs for treating diseases like cancer and AIDS. There is much controversy over who actually should have taken credit for the discovery of stem cells. Back in the 1960's James Till and Ernest McCulloch (from the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto ) discovered that after mice were injected with bone marrow cells their spleens developed "nodules" on them, and, upon studying these nodules they noticed that they were loaded with white and red blood cells. They also discovered that, additionally, these cells were able to reproduce themselves. These men said that, "All blood cells arise from a few hematopoietic stem cells,... [continues]
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