Yoshiki Sasai was a visionary scientist who pioneered research at the interface between developmental biology and stem cell biology, contributing major discoveries to both fields and sowing the seeds for applications in regenerative medicine.
Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies hold much promise for the treatment of various injuries and diseases suffered by sportspeople. While there are currently no approved stem cell treatments, researchers are working on harnessing the process by which stem cells repair and replace damaged tissues and cells.
Science teachers usually say that science progresses by challenging old dogmas. In the stem cell field, there is a dogma saying that some blood stem cells in the bone marrow stay quiescent (do not divide) for long periods of time. This way, they avoid DNA damage and malignant mutations that could arise during DNA replication that happens during cell division.
Numerous clinical trials have attempted to test the benefits of using a patient’s own stem cells (taken from the bone marrow) to treat heart disease. Results have been conflicting; some claim significant improvements in heart function, whilst others report none at all. A group at Imperial College London investigated the possible reasons for this inconsistency and found strange, unexplained discrepancies within reports of many of the clinical trials. They have identified a link between claimed success rates and discrepancies, casting doubts over the validity of this treatment.
- 133 reports of 49 clinical trials were investigated
- 600+ discrepancies were found
- Discrepancies ranged from minor to serious mistakes and misrepresentation of data
- Reports with the most discrepancies claimed most benefit to patients, while those without discrepancies showed no improvement in patients’ conditions