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Newcastle scientists get UK's first stem cell license

is being done on our site."

In principle (ES) cells can be used to make any cell type in the body and so replace cells that have been lost as a result of disease or injury.

The procedure involves reprogramming cells from, say skin tissue of a patient who has lost important cells through disease. The re-programmed cells will re- grow as the cells needed by that patient.

The approved research requires the nucleus from a skin cell to be removed and placed into an unfertilized egg. This egg is then stimulated to divide until a group of cells form. Stem cells are then isolated from this group and have the potential to grow into any cell type in the body. They could be directed to grow into, say, liver cells to cure liver disease, nerve cells to allow patients with spinal injury to walk again or nerve cells to overcome the misery of Alzheimer's disease.

Professor Trevor Page, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for external relations and research at Newcastle University, said: "Stem cell research is one of the most exciting and promising areas of biomedicine, offering the potential of therapies for diseases such as Parkinson's, liver disease, heart disease and dementia. Our success in this field of research demonstrates the highly productive nature of the partnership between Newcastle University's Institute of Human Genetics, the NHS and the Center for Life, not only in the form of cutting-edge research but also in promoting public debate on the ethical issues arising from such work.

Dr. Simon Woods, bioethicist at Newcastle's Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institutesaid: "The granting of this license is a major event, and a reflection of the excellence of the research being carried out at Newcastle University. At PEALS we will continue to stimulate public debate and explore with the researchers the ethical and social questions which arise alongs
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Contact: Makeda Scott
makeda.scott@fco.gov.uk
202-588-6523
British Information Services
11-Aug-2004


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