It appears that as if British researcher are chasing the stem cell breakthroughs. At present British stem cell scientists are surely under the limelight of success, every now and then new news of stem cell breakthroughs and developments are showing up their faces to the world emerging from the British laboratories.

Britain being the first country  in the world to introduce legislation to regulate and support the controversial embryonic stem cell research in 2002 have marched on very quickly and now there are more than 100 teams working on stem cell research in Britain.

Britain decided that human embryo research was highly valuable, so they allowed the research within a tight set of government regulations. Hence the science has flourished there for the last three decades. Other European countries like Germany and Italy have even more restrictions than the U.S.

Please find hereunder some of the main British success stories in stem cell breakthroughs.

At University College London : The world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness has been developed by British researchers using embryonic stem cells.

Researchers in university College London have been able to grow replacement cells to repair tissue destroyed by the most common cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration. Prof Pete Coffey and Pfizer hope to begin clinical trials in patients within the year.

Another trial involving heart-attack patients is already under way. Emergency heart attack patients will be injected with their own stem cells in a dramatic new treatment. The procedure, being pioneered by British doctors, holds out hope of a ‘cure’ as the stem cells repair damaged heart muscles.
Professor John Martin, who is leading the research, believes the stem cells can help repair some of the damage caused by heart attacks.

At University of Bristol: Famous stem cell scientist Professor Anthony Hollander who came into spot light after his team developed(in November) the first tissue- engineered windpipe(trachea) from patients own stem cell, once again is all set to create a stem cell bandage to avoid knee surgery.

Prof Hollander announced last week that he had established a new company, Azellon, to create “cellular bandages”from patients’ bone-marrow stem cells which can be transplanted to repair torn knee cartilage. His colleague Dr Raimondo Ascione is also due to start work on another clinical trial using stem cells to repair damage caused during heart attacks.

At University of Edinburgh: Researcher of University of Edinburgh which is a major center of regenerative medicine, headed by renowned scientist  Sir Ian Wilmut, announced on the end of last year that they had found a way to make an almost limitless supply of stem cells without using human embryos.

Following earlier work by Japanese scientists, they “reprogrammed” skin cells from adults, in effect winding the clock back so that they behaved like embryonic cells. The breakthrough promises to help overcome many of the ethical controversies involved in using embryonic stem cells. Researchers are also undertaking a major study into finding treatments for multiple sclerosis.

At King’s College London: UK scientists have found that stem cells can be used to cure stroke. This is one of the most exciting stem cell  research.This a new technique to repair damage in the brain caused by strokes.

Dr Mike Modo, together with researchers at Nottingham University, found that stem cells implanted into the brains of rats formed new brain tissue and nerve connections.

Dr Mike Modo, of the team expressed his hope that they can offer the treatment to the patients within next 20 year.

At University of Sheffield: Dr Marcelo Rivolta last month announced that he could treat the damage to hair cells and neurons, deep inside the ear, that causes almost 90 per cent of hearing loss, by growing new cells and nerves.

The technique is being developed by scientists and doctors from University College London, Moorfields Eye Hospital, also in London, and Sheffield University, working together in the London Project to Cure Blindness.
Patients who have lost their sight in chemical accidents or through rare genetic diseases have had it partially restored thanks to a stem cell treatment developed by Dr Julie Daniels and her team. Using stem cells from tissue donors, they were able to grow new corneas in the laboratory for transplant.

Researches at the Manchester and Sheffield Universities have been able to identify the techniques to turn embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic tissue. They will now be able to manipulate the stem cell to produce ‘transcription factor’, a protein necessary for treatment.

The team believes that the functional beta cells, if transplanted into the human body, can be a good solution for the type 2 diabetes. The cells produced by the team, resemble fetal pancreatic cells rather than adult tissue. The study, published in the Journal Public Library of Science, was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Medical Research Council.

At Cambridge University: The stem cell pioneer Professor Austin Smith and his team announced groundbreaking research (in February), that they had managed to reprogram adult mouse cells so that they behaved in a similar way to embryonic stem cells.

This approach had the added benefit that it did not involve the potentially harmful viruses used by other groups around the world to transfer the new genetic instructions to the patient’s cells.
The research was published in the journal Cell is the first of its kind that demonstrates germ-line transmission from rat ES cells. It makes use of a technology licensed exclusively to SCS by the University of Edinburgh and developed by Professor Austin Smith and his team, now at Cambridge University. the new technique would be generating consistently appropriate and stable at ES cells, which can be used to create genetically modified animals for medical, academic and pharmaceutical research.

At Newcastle University: Britain’s first human-animal hybrid embryos have been created last year, forming a crucial first step, scientists believe, towards a supply of stem cells that could be used to investigate debilitating and so far untreatable conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.
Lyle Armstrong, who led the work, gained permission in January from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to create the embryos, known as “cytoplasmic hybrids”.

His team at Newcastle University produced the embryos by inserting human DNA from a skin cell into a hollowed-out cow egg. An electric shock then induced the hybrid embryo to grow. The embryo, 99.9% human and 0.1% other animal, grew for three days, until it had 32 cells.

Last year UK researchers have found that sperm cells can be turned into stem cells with similar properties to embryo stem cells. Thus the invention raises hopes of a ready supply of ‘repair tissue‘ for the body.
Scientists from Kings College in London used 22 separate samples from medical castrations and biopsies, and extracted ‘sperm precursor cells’ (a form of adult stem cells with a fixed role) to become a sperm cell.The resulting cells were then chemically manipulated into a state similar to those in the embryo.

In another research stem cells from human bone marrow have been converted into early-stage sperm, claimed by the research team based at the North-east England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI), Newcastle.

The discovery will improve our understanding of natural sperm cell production and perhaps lead to novel fertility treatments in the long-term.

Source: Telegraph