You are here: MEDICA Portal. Part VIII: Regenerative Medicine. Stem Cells.
Of Potency and New Organs (Part 2)
Part 2: Potential in the Testis
Skutella and colleagues discovered an alternative last year: They found a premature stem cell source in men and have grown them successfully in culture. Next to embryonic stem cells these germ stem cells from the testis are the only cells that are existent in a pluripotent and not programed state. „We have known from the beginnings of stem cell research that germ stem cells are very potent“, Skutella says. However, they occur in very low numbers and it therefore took a long time to find them.
In order to investigate the whole potentials of the male germ stem cells, the German Federal Ministry of Research and Technology (BMBF) supports the Centre in Tübingen with half a million Euros. The goal is to develop pluripotent cell lines that remain stable for a long time and to characterise these. This monetary support is only one example for the cash that goes to the field of regenerative medicine in Germany for a good reason. In 2006, a BMBF-study showed that potential of this area in Germany: The study estimates a market potential of about 150 millions Euros per year for skin replacement products as well as cell therapies for repairing liver damages. It also predicts a greater market for the relatively young field of research concerning the heart like repairing damaged heart areas: The experts talk of more than a billion Euros turnover per year.
Money for renewing humans
That is one of the reasons why a reference centre concerned with cardiac stem cell therapy located in Rostock in East Germany is supported with 3,4 million Euros for a clinical study looking at the treatment of heart attack patients with adult stem cells. Also the German Research Foundation (DFG) participates with money within the framework of an excellence initiative and supports special centres such as the Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Dresden (CRTD) and Hannover (REBIRTH).
Also the Leibniz Research Laboratories for Biotechnology and Artificial Organs (LEBAO) at Hannover Medical School do research in the name of regenerative medicine. Next to stem cell research they also focus on tissue engineering in order to produce implants for the regeneration or the replacement of damaged organs. The methods comprise putting the patient's cells on a biological scaffold to grow a substitute for diseased or destroyed tissue such as heart valves or blood vessels amongst other things.
- Part 1: Of Potency and New Organs
- Part 2: Potential in the Testis
- 3. Teil: Man muss das Blut zähmen