Researchers at U of T and Mount Sinai Hospital have developed Canada’s first two human embryonic stem cell lines, giving scientists across the country new potential for eventually discovering treatments and cures for many chronic and fatal diseases.
“My hope – and the hope of my laboratory team – is that our step of developing the first Canadian embryonic stem cell lines will ultimately bring Canada and the world closer to treating or curing diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries,” says Professor Andras Nagy of medical genetics and microbiology and a senior scientist at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute.
Nagy headed a team of five scientists who have been developing stem cell lines – which will be freely available to Canadian scientists – for the past two years. Embryonic stem cells are highly valued by medical researchers because of their unique ability to transform into any of the body’s specialized cells, be it heart, brain, blood or bone. “Our research remains in an early phase, but [it] holds enormous promise for regenerating damaged tissues that cause incurable diseases,” says Nagy.