A US study has found that both embryonic and adult stem cells protect mice against a neurogenerative disease. This is the first time, it was claimed, that rodents genetically disposed to a disease lived longer and healthier lives after injections of human stem cells. The researchers, at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California, found that the human cells had developed into signalling nerve cells. When the stem cells were used in conjunction with drugs, the mice lived even longer.
Scientists were intrigued by the fact that both types of cells worked well. (The adult stem cells came from the brains of aborted human foetuses.) However, lead researcher Evan Snyder noted that embryonic stem cells were easier to use, even if they were ethically more controversial. “They just grow quicker and in greater quantities,” he said.
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