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Title: Utilising human embryonic stem cells as 'catalysts' for biological repair and regeneration. Challenges and some possible strategies
Authors: Heng, B.C. 
Liu, H. 
Cao, T. 
Keywords: Embryonic
Regenerative medicine
Stem cells
Issue Date: 2005
Citation: Heng, B.C., Liu, H., Cao, T. (2005). Utilising human embryonic stem cells as 'catalysts' for biological repair and regeneration. Challenges and some possible strategies. Clinical and Experimental Medicine 5 (1) : 37-39. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In recent years, much interest has been generated over the potential of human embryonic stem cells in transplantation medicine. The groundbreaking study of Fraidenraich and colleagues conclusively demonstrated that rescue of lethal cardiac defects in Id knockout mutant mouse embryos was not due to transplanted embryonic stem cells giving rise to functional new tissues within the defective embryonic heart. Instead, there is indirect evidence that the observed therapeutic effect was due to various secreted factors emanating from the transplanted cells. This therefore introduces the exciting prospect of utilizing human embryonic stem cells as 'catalysts' to promote biological repair and regeneration in transplantation therapy. Nevertheless, the immunological barrier against allogenic transplantation, as well as the teratogenic potential of human embryonic stem cells poses major technical challenges. A possible strategy to overcome the immunological barrier may be to impose a temporary regimen of immunosuppressive drugs followed by their gradual withdrawal, once adequate tissue regeneration has been achieved. Other more novel alternatives include the use of microencapsulation to block interaction with the transplant recipient's immune system, and co-transplantation with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which have been demonstrated to possess immuno-suppressive properties. The teratogenic potential of human embryonic stem cells could possibly be alleviated by directing the differentiation of these cells to specific lineages prior to transplantation, or through mitotic inactivation. Co-transplantation with autologous adult stem cells may represent a novel strategy to further enhance the 'catalytic' effects of human embryonic stem cells. The various factors secreted by human embryonic stem cells could then have a concentrated localized effect on relatively large numbers of co-transplanted autologous adult stem cells, which may in turn lead to enhanced repair and regeneration of the damaged tissue or organ. This new therapeutic strategy needs to rigorously investigated, in view of its potentially important clinical applications.
Source Title: Clinical and Experimental Medicine
ISSN: 15918890
DOI: 10.1007/s10238-005-0062-7
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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