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Could Marrow Cells Replace

Could Marrow Cells ReplaceTuftsscientists are among those exploring the possibility that a typeof cell found in human bone marrow shares the potential of embryonicstem cells. Boston

Boston [02.09.05] Facing federal limits on the use of human embryonicstem cells in research, scientists are hunting for innovativealternatives that offer similar hope for treating and curing variousdiseases. In a recent study, researchers at Tufts isolated a bonemarrow cell that they believe might equal the health potentialof embryonic stem cells to help rebuild organs or fight disease..

"[Bonemarrow] is like a repair kit,” Douglas W. Losordo, M.D.the Tufts cardiologist who led the study, told The WashingtonPost. “Nature provided us with these tools to repairorgan damage."

Accordingto the study – which was published in the February issueof the Journal of Clinical Investigation – Tufts researchersfound that these marrow cells could transform into the numerousdifferent kinds of cells that comprise the human body, much likeembryonic stem cells do. In a laboratory study, Lorodo found thatthe marrow cells helped build new heart muscle and blood vesselsfollowing heart attacks with less interfering scar tissue.

"I thinkembryonic stem cells are going to fade in the rearview mirrorof adult stem cells," Losordo told the newspaper. In additionto being an associate professor of medicine at Tufts, Lorordois chief of cardiovascular research at Caritas St. Elizabeth'sMedical Center, a Tufts teaching hospital.

Similar workis being done at the University of Minnesota, where a biologisthas isolated a marrow cell that appears able to grow into anysort of tissue.

The researchhas been received warmly, though cautiously.

"Thisis a really very nice piece of work," James F. Battey, chiefof the stem cell program at the National Institutes of Health,told the Post. "It's very impressive, very interestingand I think very significant."

Scientistsacknowledge, though, that there is a lot of work to be done.

"It stillremains the case that we're very early in the game, and I can'tsay the [new] results are absolutely airtight,” Battey added.

However, whilescientists continue the debate as to whether or not these marrowcells are as pliable as stem cells, Losordo and his team are takingadvantage of the ease with which they find they can cultivatethem.

"We'vegot freezers full of these things now," he told the Post.







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