Researchers: Adult Stem Cells Can Become Other Kinds of Cells

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Researchers: Adult Stem Cells Can Become Other Kinds of Cells Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 30, 2005

Sydney, Australia ( — Scientists who favor embryonic stem cells say they hold the promise of being able to change into any kind of stem cell, which would allow them to cure virtually any disease. However, researchers in Australia have found adult stem cells can do the same thing.

Scientists at Australia’s Griffith University have ended a four year study on olfactory stem cells and found that they can be turned into heart cells, brain cells, nerve cells and almost any other kind of cell in the human body.

In addition, they can be developed without the kind of problems embryonic stem cells have had when injected into humans — including being rejected or causing tumors to develop.

"Our experiments have shown adult stem cells isolated from the olfactory mucosa have the ability to develop into many different cell types if they are given the right chemical or cellular environment," research team leader Alan Mackay-Sim told The Australian newspaper.

Mackay-Sim said his team grew nerve cells, glial cells, liver cells, heart cells, muscle cells from the cells harvested from the human nose.

He said the medical community in his country is excited about the results.

Brisbane neurologist Peter Silburn, a member of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, pointed to the taking of adult stem cells from patients with Parkinson’s and turning them into neurones.

"We can now learn about the condition in ways we never could before," Silburn told the Australian.

The findings of the Griffith University team, which conducted their study with only $200,000 in funds, add a major argument to those who oppose taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.