A Sobering Setback in Stem Cell Research

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President

The progress of science is paved with stories of high hopes and heartbreaks. But in a busy lab at the University of Rochester the two extremes have met in one dazzling yet devastating experiment.

Researchers there have for the first time essentially cured rats of a Parkinson’s-like disease using human embryonic stem cells. But 10 weeks into the trial, they discovered brain tumours had begun to grow in every animal treated.

“Here we have this method that works so well to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s,” said lead investigator Steven Goldman, “But no matter how you look at it, it’s an expanding mass and that’s bad news.”

None of the cells growing out of control were cancerous tumours. But as Dr. Goldman pointed out, “In the brain, nothing’s benign.” read the rest of this story

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