When pluripotent stem cells are made from a patient’s own cells, it may be also be possible to replace the faulty gene that caused their disease with a normal, healthy copy. The repaired stem cells could then be directed to form the tissue type needed, introduced into the body, allowed to divide, and used to reconstitute the diseased tissue. It's a treatment that should last a lifetime.
Boston Children’s Hospital researcher George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, then at the Whitehead Institute, was the first to demonstrate, in 2002, that pluripotent stem cells could successfully treat a disease. Working with mice that possess a genetic defect caused by an immune deficiency, the research team created genetically-matched embryonic stem cells through nuclear transfer, introduced corrective genes, then derived healthy blood stem cells and infused them into the mice, partially restoring their immune function. Daley, Director of Stem Cell Transplantation at Children’s, would like to do the same for his patients with blood diseases.