Mice Balls To The Rescue!
German scientists from Georg-August-University of Göttingensay (man, that's a mouthful) have discovered that cells from the testes of mice can behave like embryonic stem cells. If the same holds true in humans, it could provide a controversy-free source of cells for use in treating many diseases.
Why are embryonic stem cells so important in uncovering ways to treat diseases? Embryonic stem cells are super duper versitile. They can become any tissue in the body. Scientists believe they may offer treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries.
Stem cell research has been a hotbed of controversy for many years. In order to harvest the cells, human embryos must be destroyed - human rights and religious groups have fought the practice for years. The debate continues to rage on - when is a life a life? When does the good of finding a cure that kills millions outweigh the life of an embryo?
But these new developments using mice testes offers a way to continue to do stem cell research without entering the ethical and moral battle. Lab research recently published in Nature found that the mouse cells closely mimicked the behavior of embryonic stem cells, Dr. Gerd Hasenfuss (pictured right) said Friday. He said he is optimistic about finding human testicular cells that will do the same. Work has already begun on that, he added.
If such cells are found in human males, “then we have resolved the ethical problem with human embryonic stem cells,” he said in a telephone interview.
Most recently, the mouse cells were able to develop into a variety of vital cells including heart cells that contracted and nerve cells that produced dopamine, the chemical messenger that Parkinson’s patients lack. Cells typical of the liver, skin, pancreas, brain, and blood vessels were produced as well.The process would invovle removing testicular cells from a male patient, growing some tissue in a lab the patient needs, and transplanting that same tissue into the donor without fear of biological rejection, he noted. In other words, guys - your balls could one day save your life.
For the time being, scientists have yet to find such sells from women. Dr. Takashi Shinohara, of the Kyoto University says he has not been able to find a similar source of tailor-made stem cells in female mice. "Maybe we just missed it, but maybe it's not there." So it seems that this is a man-only procedure for now. (Sorry ladies). This is really an unfortunate situation, since most men become crybabies when they need any medical procedure. Personally, I would run faster than Flo-Jo when confronted by a heavy-set nurse and a needle.