The spotlight might fall more often on the controversial area of embryonic stem cell research when stem cell research is discussed, but that does not mean other areas of stem cell research seize to exist.
Kevin Dalby, Austin, Texas-established professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at the College of Pharmacy, Department of Oncology at The University of Texas at Austin, serves as director of the Targeted Therapeutics Program. He is studying the mechanisms of cancer cell signaling to develop targeted therapeutics. Dr. Dalby’s efforts were recognized by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the National Institutes of Health, granting him nearly $5 million to support his research. Dalby has an interest in how cancer stem cells impact cancer drug discovery.
Adult stem cell research has lead to remarkable advancements, while RNA-induced pluripotent stem cell research has recently surfaced as an innovative area of study. Here, Dalby discusses recent progress in some areas of stem cell research.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Researchers collect embryonic stem cells from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, which is an empty sphere of cells that forms three to five days after a sperm fertilizes an egg cell. The cells developing inside of the blastocyst bring forth more exclusive cells that affect all of the body’s tissues and organs. These cells retain properties of embryonic stem cells and are extracted and further grown in laboratories. Embryonic stem cells’ value comes from their ability to act as a renewable resource during research.
In one study, Doctors and researchers are currently working to utilize embryonic stem cell therapy to treat type 1 diabetes by turning these cells into natural insulin-producing cells. The study involves participants in both San Diego, CA, and Edmonton, Canada, and is on track for completion by January 2021.
Tissue/Adult Stem Cell Research
Tissue stem cells, also known as an adult or somatic stem cells, can exhibit the capability of creating distinct cell types for the particular organ or tissue they inhabit. These more specific stem cells are challenging to locate in the body and do self-renew as efficiently as embryonic stem cells. However, tissue stem cells have helped advance knowledge in the effects of aging, disease, and injury.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research
In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka discovered pluripotent stem cells, which are also known as “reprogrammed” stem cells as they are adult stem cells reprogrammed to function as an embryonic stem cell. These cells are generated in a laboratory through the conversion of tissue cells into cells that replicate the behavior of embryonic stem cells.
The revelation and innovation of pluripotent stem cell research have led to the ability to develop stem cells unique to each patient for shaping human diseases, and personalizing regenerative cell therapy.
About Kevin Dalby
Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, currently working on cancer drug discovery. Kevin Dalby has been interested in the “why” of chemical reactions since he was a student at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Organic Chemistry. This has led to his interest in the processes of cell signaling, and ultimately to cancer research. Dr. Dalby’s research areas include biochemistry, cancer, cell biology, chemical biology, drug discovery & diagnostics, and enzymology.