Thryoid diseases are some of the most complex known to man. Their very nature makes them difficult to understand and track, let alone combat. But further innovations in engineering and the fields of medical science are helping scientists and doctors aid their patients in the ongoing fight against thyroid disease. One invention in particular could provide answers to questions experts have been struggling with for ages.
Scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine have designed a new way to generate thyroid cells. Known as thyrocytes, the cells were created using mouse embryonic stem cells. These cells were cultured to express a specific genetic switch for a particular gene, Nkx2-1. The gene was switched on and off as the scientists guided the embryonic stem cells through numerous stages. During this process, the researchers discovered that there was a single time frame of vital importance.
For a very narrow space of time, turning on the gene would result in most of the cells being converted into thyroid cells. Scientists were shocked by the high yield from the action, which left them with an abundance of material to work with in their research. They believe this discovery is the first step towards developing protocol similar to that which dictates human stem cells. In short, this innovation will help researchers and doctors develop more effective therapies, and even understand the causes behind thyroid disease.
As if that’s not impressive enough, this discovery is only the tip of the cellular iceberg. Scientists believe that the experiment will yield similar results with a host of other cell types. Lung cells, insulin-producing cells, and liver cells are all at the top of the list to get this treatment. If the results prove as successful as those involving thyroid cells, we could soon see an entirely new — and far more effective — way to treat some of our deadliest diseases.
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