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There’s a New Sickle Cell Disease Stem Cell Library in the Works

January 23, 2017 by Andrea
Photo: Vegasjon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Vegasjon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Long before 1910 (the official year of sickle cell discovery in the United States) -- about 5,000 years, in fact -- SCD existed on the African continent. But even after almost 110 years of official recognition, people all over the world continue to die of the disease.

A new effort to fix this is now happening at Boston Medical Center. There, a team of scientists is planning to develop a stem cell research library -- the largest of its kind -- that will hold blood samples of sickle cell warriors of all ethnic backgrounds, in hopes of making it easier to share advancements in sickle cell treatment and improve upon them.

The stems cells used are called induced pluripotent stem cells (or iPSCs), which, according to Science Daily, "are cells that can renew indefinitely as undifferentiated cells and later can be directed to grow into any type of tissue or organ." Think of these cells as if they are a master key to the body. Just as master keys can unlock all doors to buildings, iPSCs can "unlock" production codes for all cells and body tissues, enabling the body to heal itself. Since these stem cells are self-renewing and can reproduce in such a way, they will also help develop disease models for testing. These capabilities will help researchers better understand how sickle cell disease works, so that in can be more effectively treated, and possibly cured.

For more information on this new development, read Science Daily's full article here.

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