Tucked away on page A8 of yesterday’s Newsday, the Long Island New York daily newspaper, was a brief but interesting article about a potential advance in stem cell research which could ultimately have a very significant impact on prostate cancer survivors.

According to the article, researchers in Japan, reported that they were able to inject stem cells into mice embryos that had a gene alteration that should have prevented them from developing kidneys. Despite the gene modification, because of the introduction of the stem cells into the embryos, the mice were born with fully functioning kidneys.

The study still has not been published and so has not been subject to any peer review process.

Mice are genetically similar to people, however people are not big mice. Therefore, it cannot be automatically assumed that this particular stem cell technology would also work in humans. If this study stands up to scrutiny and can be replicated it can actually be as long as ten years before the technology might be available to be used in patients with Renal problems.

The technology could prove to be transferable to other organs. Those of us who have lost our prostates to prostate cancer might be able to “grow back” our prostate gland! Maybe we could just order a prostrate off the shelf. Pardon my humor, but think of what this technology could mean to our lives and the lives of our spouses.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW