In one of the highlights, Shin-Yong Moon of the Seoul National University, Korea, presented the experiments on obtaining the first human stem cell lines by cloning. "These cell lines are not suitable for transplanting into human beings," he explained. At this time, he and his colleagues are focussing their research efforts on the fundamental principles of cell development in order to gain a better understanding of diseases. "There are still many hurdles to overcome before they can be used for treatment."
Max Planck researcher Schler and Mitinori Saitou of the RIKEN CDB are exploring the development of female germ cells. Schler demonstrated how embryonic mouse cells can differentiate into egg cells in cell culture. Here lies "the potential to treat infertility in women someday." Saitou is investigating the molecular biological switches that trigger germ cell formation in the body.
Yuichi Niikura of the Harvard Medical School in Boston then refuted the belief that women cannot generate new egg cells because there is no self-renewal of stem cells in mature ovaries: "We believe that germ stem cells are present in bone marrow." When needed, they would migrate to the ovaries and differentiate into new egg cells. This result could also become of great clinical importance one day, perhaps for treating infertility in women after cancer treatment.
Experiments with nervous system stem cells are already one step closer to clinical development. Steve Goldman of the University of Rochester, USA, is exploring neuroglial stem cells. This nerve-protecting insulation layer is destroyed in many serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Goldman isolated neural stem cells from the brains of accident victims and cultivated the precursors to glial cells. He transplanted them to a mouse model that cannot produce myelin, a nerve insulating substance made by glial cells. In this manner, he succeeded in completely repairing t
Contact: Prof. Dr. Hans R. Schoeler