Sometimes the truth has a way of getting out. On March 29th, Michael J. Fox and Dr. Oz were guests on the Oprah show. The topic, of course, was stem cell research. The medical expert used a real preserved brain to show the area of the midbrain affected by Parkinson’s Disease, called the substantia nigra. He went on to describe how stem cells might one day be used to regenerate the cells in this region.
Here is the interesting wrinkle: In a move that was probably unexpected by Oprah herself, Dr. Oz rightly pointed out that embryonic stem cells are probably not going to help much in this kind of research, because it is difficult to make them become specialized brain cells, and because such cells often form tumors when injected into experimental animals. On the other hand, an exciting development from November, 2007 uses ordinary human skin cells to create the needed stem cells. Although Dr. Oz did not use the term, they are called induced pluripotent stem cells, and they are far superior to embryonic stem cells. Look at the short video segment from Oprah – you’ll be amazed at how soon Dr. Oz expects these cells to be in clinical use: