Curing diseases with embryonic stem cells proving much harder than expected

px Human embryonic stem cells only A
Human embryonic stem cells (CREDIT: Nissim Benvenisty, Vojtech.dostal, Wikimedia Commons).
[N]o field of biotechnology has promised more and delivered less in the way of treatments than embryonic stem cells. Only a handful of human studies has ever been carried out, without significant results. The cells, culled from IVF embryos, are capable of developing into any other tissue type in the body, and therefore promise an unlimited supply of replacement tissue.

Sounds simple, but it hasn’t been. It took [researcher Doug] Melton and his team 15 years to unveil each molecular step required to coax a stem cell into a pancreatic beta cell able to sense glucose and secrete insulin…

[Harvard professor] William Sahlman…says “people are prepared to put very large amounts of money on the experiments.” One reason: the global market for insulin exceeds $30 billion a year. Tests strips and monitors might double that.


[Melton] still has no timeline for when [his] implantable biotech pancreas could be ready. That means Melton’s children will have to wait a while longer. “I’m sorry it takes so long,” says Melton, “but it is going to work.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Will Embryonic Stem Cells Ever Cure Anything?

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