Could this discovery make cancer treatment a fixed gamble?

Stem cell treatment is a new, revolutionary discovery regarding the field of cancer treatment. Stem cells are cells that virtually have blank slate, and have the ability to develop into nearly any sort of cell that can be found in the body. These cells help fight in cases of disease such as leukemia and lymphoma, as their main purpose is to replace cells that have been damaged by chemotherapy or by the cancer itself. Stem cell transplants have been known to be unpredictable, as the chances of the stem cell cooperating with the surrounding cells is an unknown variable. These cells may either die, self renew, or grow into another sort of tissue entirely. However, in a recent study done by the University of Hiroshima, researchers have discovered a new method of restoring fertility by means of stem cells that dramatically stack the odds in ones favor. Tested on male lab mice, the study successfully reversed male infertility in mice, which may sound insignificant, but according to the researchers, this has massive implications for the future of male infertility as well as the repopulation of dying or extinct species. In the experiment, the researchers knew of the potential fates of the injected stem cells, either death, a small chance of repopulation of correct cells, or repopulation of a different sort of cell, which is called differentiation. Using this knowledge, the researchers devised a new way of artificially determining the fate of these stem cells. They briefly introduced a retinoic acid synthesis inhibitor after transplantation, which temporarily prevented the donor sperm stem cells from undergoing differentiation. The chemical inhibitor helped orchestrate an outcome where the stem cells choose a fate of self-renewal. Although still an early study, the main objectives of the researchers is to "apply spermatogonial stem cell transplantation for the fertility of male individuals with cancer after chemotherapy or the preservation of genetic diversity in farm animals and rare or endangered wild animals" as stated by Yoshiaki Nakamura.





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