PCRS Update: Regenerative Medicine
Each year, a team of physicians and staff from Pacific Fertility Center attend the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS) annual meeting in Palm Springs, CA.
This year, Dr. Alan Trounson, director of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), discussed concepts of regenerative medicine at Pacific Coast.
Regenerative Medicine is of great interest to reproductive specialists, since both fields involve embryology, cell culture, and early development. Ultimately, an embryo generates all its future cells, the heart, brain, and skeletal system, from its own set of stem cells.
Dr. Trounson was a pioneer of IVF in Monash, Australia, and then the Director of the Centre for Early Human Development . He is an expert in the diagnosis of disease in embryos, in addition to his work in stem cells.
Dr. Trounson reviewed fascinating research in regenerative medicine. One approach to diabetes is a small implantable chamber that contains insulin-secreting cells, called Encaptra. This approach to diabetes is under development, with clinical trials expected next year.
Stem cell work has resulted in a possible cure for HIV. People with a deficiency of the protein CCR5 are resistant to HIV infection and have natural immunity. CCR5 binds to a receptor that draws the HIV virus and a blood cell together. When there is no CCR5, there is no binding, and the virus cannot enter the cell. Mutating the CCR5 gene so that it does not work, might cure HIV. Clinical trials are underway right now.
We live in an era of rich and profoundly important scientific research. Many of these techniques will change our concepts of disease, and solve medical problems that had no solution in the past. Watch Dr. Trounson, and the work of CIRM, for leadership in this area.
- Philip Chenette, MD