Japanese Kill Cancer, HIV with STEM CELLS
Stem cells have always been a bone-of-contention within the US scientific and political circles because of the ethical connotations. Former President Bush (can’t blame a man for his religious beliefs) vetoed embryonic stem cell research while President Obama ended the ban on embryonic stem cell research in 2009. From the promising findings from a Japanese lab this was wise a decision because they used stem cells to kill cancer and HIV cells (a first using T-cells). This promising new discovery comes with a caveat, they do not know if they will kill normal human cells as well. So basically, this is bad news for test monkeys. If any brilliant monkeys are reading this…try to escape now.
The next phase of this research will probably include injecting cancer cells into a controlled monkey group and monitoring the effects of stem cell injections into their cancerous tumors. For you animal activist, I am sorry to have to present this stark reality because it is not a stretch. In 2011, the Japanese fitted 1,000 monkeys with Geiger counters to test radiation levels in Fukushima. Enough of this monkey business let’s get back to the latest findings.
“The next step will be to test whether these T cells can selectively kill tumor cells but not other cells in the body. It’s possible that lab-grown cells could attack normal, healthy human cells after therapeutic injection.”
Lead researcher Hiroshi Kawamoto
This brand new discovery originated at the University of Tokyo and the Riken Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology, where they were excited to discover, through a conversion process they could super-charge (cytotoxic) T-cells without affecting the T-cells original programming. What are T-cells? They are the cells which attack any disease in body. Think of them as the warriors (Scottish) in the movie Braveheart attacking the foreign (English) invaders in mass and winning. Without these T-cells a common cold would be a death sentence.
The short version, is the Japanese researchers extracted skin cancer and HIV cells from patients and therein history was made. Through converting T-cells to (pluripotent) stem cells and back to T-cells they discovered these conversion cells became the apex predators of the cellular domain. Not even the mighty cancer cells nor HIV cells could stand up to these “apex” T-cells and the converted T-cells were still capable of producing the crucial anti-tumor compound interferon. This is a clear case of serendipity, because the lab was only interested in studying the conversion process. Now the unknown aspect (and if this is really a viable discovery) is: Will these “apex” T-cells cannibalize all of the normal cells encountered? In other words, the jury is still out and isn’t this how all the latest Zombie movies start?
The purpose of perfecting this stem cell conversion process is to optimize the fact stem cells grow faster in the lab than in the human body. Meaning stem cells can be mass produced at a higher rate, plus healing can occur faster as stem cells combat pathogens, while saving human life. I am excited to hear the news because I lost my grandmother, grandfather, aunt, and uncle to cancer. I am sure many other people feel the same way.
Michael Erevna, is Editor-in-chief and author of “THY SUN, THY ROD, and THY STAFF”