Major New Breakthrough for iPS Cells

Scientists used human muscle cells derived from non-
embryonic cells to fight muscular dystrophy
in mice.

Summary: In what has been described as a “phenomenal
breakthrough,” researchers at the U. of Minnesota’s Lillehei Heart
Institute have derived a new process that, for the first time, makes the
production of human muscle cells from stem cells efficient and effective.
The new muscle cells had success in treating  muscular dystrophy in
mice, something never done before.

As described in the May 4
Cell Stem Cell, the research involves a
method of developing a rapidly dividing population of skeletal
myogenic progenitor cells (muscle-forming cells) derived from induced
pluripotent (iPS) cells. Unlike embryonic stem (ES) cells, iPS cells are
obtained by reprogramming skin cells, and they can be designed for
specific patients in order to avoid being rejected. They also do not
involve the destruction of embryos.

The U of M researchers were the first to use ES cells from mice to treat
muscular dystrophy, but there had been a significant lag in translating
their work using mouse stem cells into relevant studies involving human
stem cells. Now, at least in principle, muscular dystrophy can be treated
with human iPS cells, and the stage is set for future human clinical trials.

Principal investigator Rita Perlingeiro Ph.D. said obtaining sufficient
muscle progenitor cells to produce an effective response had been a
major barrier. But when transplanting human skeletal myogenic
progenitor cells into mice suffering from muscular dystrophy, both
extensive and long-term muscle regeneration resulting in improved
muscle function was obtained. To achieve their breakthrough, the
researchers had to genetically modify two human iPS cell lines and a
human ES cell line with the PAX7 gene. They ultimately were able to
pinpoint the optimal time for inducing PAX7 into the iPS and ES cells to
push them into becoming human muscle progenitor cells.

"Seeing long-term maintenance of these cells without major adverse
side effects is exciting," said Perlingeiro. "Our research proves that
these differentiated stem cells have real staying power in the fight
against muscular dystrophy."  The next step is to find alternative
methods of PAX7 induction before human clinical trials can begin. The
method the researchers employed involved using viruses which
sometimes can cause mutations, and that adds risk to clinical trials.

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Comment: Muscular dystrophy is not a single disease but is actually a
group of genetic diseases characterized by muscle fibers which are
usually susceptible to damage. The damaged muscles become weaker
over time, and most people with muscular dystrophy will end up in
wheelchairs. Symptoms include breathing and swallowing problems, and
the limbs of patients may draw inward and become fixed in that position,
a condition called contracture. Some varieties of the disease can also
affect the heart and other organs.

Here is another situation where mutations have caused faulty genes
(more than 30) to develop in both fathers and mothers that can be
passed on to their children. The disease affects more than 50,000
Americans. Contrary to what you may have heard, mutations are not
helpful for humans or any other species.

We are happy to hear though that researchers seem to be making
headway in treating the disease. It is also good news that they have had
success using stem cells derived from adult tissues. This holds out the
promise that they will not be tempted to kill embryos to obtain stem cells
in their future work.
Adult stem cells including IPS cells have already
proven to be much more valuable anyway in treating ailments.

Regardless of whatever successes medical scientists may yet achieve
in treating muscular dystrophy and other maladies (and we should pray
for them), they will never come close to wiping disease off the face of
the Earth. That won’t happen until Jesus Christ returns to take us to with
Him to heaven where there won’t even be minor ailments, and bodily
perfection will be the rule for all people there. It is a shame that so many
people refuse to believe the good news that Jesus has saved us by
accepting the punishment for our sins that we deserve. They will miss
ut on the cure for sin and disease that Jesus offers to everyone.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is
perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in
glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural
body, it is raised a spiritual body
” (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

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Bottom Line Personal (4/1/12)
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About Me - Warren Krug
The Editor

Decades ago I attended a
so-called Lutheran
university where I could
have lost my faith. The
science professors promoted
the theory of evolution and
made fun of anybody who
believed in the account of
creation as presented in
the book of Genesis.
Thanks be to God, some
creationist literature and
the Bible soon helped get
me back on the right track.
Ever since then I have
taken an active interest in
the creation/evolution

Background image from NASA