How Canada's stem cell research breakthrough will alter medical practices
Canadian scientists say they have figured out a way to turn regular human blood cells into n...
Canada may have just stumbled upon a medical breakthrough.
Canadian scientists say they have figured out a way to turn regular human blood cells into nerve cells—an achievement that could lead to new advances for those suffering chronic pain or nerve diseases.
According to CTV News, stem cell researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario say they have learned how to convert cells from blood into both central nervous neural cells as well cells from the peripheral nervous system, which are the nerves in the rest of the body that are responsible for sensing pain, heat and itches.
Led by Mick Bhatia, director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, he was initially surprised by the results.
“Neural cells have a very distinct shape, but we thought we had done something wrong to the cells. They were behaving differently to make them elongate, moving from a round shape to a very long stretched-out shape,” he told the news station.
After repeating the procedure over several months, however, they realized that they had achieved something new.
While the idea itself isn’t new, no one has ever been able to actually complete the process of creating central nervous system neural cells and peripheral nervous system cells.
RELATED TOPIC: Are these medical breakthroughs or science fiction?
What this means for the medical community
With this achievement, doctors would ideally be able to take a blood sample from a patient and quickly produce a million sensory and central nervous neural cells, Bhaita said.
Those cells could then be studied to better understand why certain people feel pain or why others experience numbness—such as diabetics.
"Pain is really poorly understood right now, and the drugs available are not well characterized," Bhatia said. "Most are narcotics and opioids that are addictive and they're not very specific to the cells you're trying to target."
RELATED TOPIC: Why is everyone talking about stem cells?
The research will be published as a research paper in Cell Reports.
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Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”