Stem Cell - Archive

April 2005: Stem Cell Research

Adult Stem Cells Change & Repair

Adult Stem Cells Repair Girl’s Skull

Bone Marrow (Adult) Stem Cells Can Create Customized Skin Grafts After Burns, Breast Cancer

Human Embryonic Stem Cells…

 

 

ADULT STEM CELLS CHANGE & REPAIR – ASCs are being shown in study after study to have the “multipotent” ability of embryonic stem cells, to change into many different cell types. Dr. D. Losordo research team [Tufts Univ, Boston] injected adult stem cells into the hearts of rats, that had had heart attacks. The ASCs became heart muscle, tissue cells, and blood vessels.

Losordo: “I think embryonic stem cells are going to fade in the rear view mirror of adult stem cells.” [The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2/05; [RTL Greater Cincinnati, 3/05]

 

ADULT STEM CELLS REPAIR GIRL’S SKULL – Metal plates traditionally were used to protect the brain in such cases. Other surgeons had failed to correct the defects, and the 7-yr-old German girl wore a protective helmet. Her brain could sometimes be seen pulsating through the missing areas of her skull. ASCs derived from her fat cells were mixed with bits of her bone and implanted over the 19 square inch area last year.

The defect has been successfully corrected: The skull is now smooth to the touch, the missing parts replaced by thin but solid bone [Dr. Hans-Peter Howaldt, Justus-Liebig-University Medical School in Giessen, Germany]. “I cannot prove that our success comes from the stem cells alone,” he said, “but the combination of the two things simply worked.”

Howaldt and his colleagues treated the skull in the same operation that removed bone from the girl’s pelvis and about 1.5 ounces of fat tissue from her buttocks. The bone was milled into chips about one-tenth of an inch long and placed in the missing areas of the skull. Then surgeons added the stem cells to the bone chips. The cells had been extracted from the girl’s fat in a laboratory while surgeons prepared the girl’s skull. Howaldt said the bone chips appeared to instruct the stem cells to make more bone. While the new bone should grow as the child grows, she’s old enough that her skull won’t grow much more anyway, he said. [17Dec04 Associated Press; N Valko RN; [RTL Greater Cincinnati, 3/05 http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-12-17-stem-skull_x.htm 12/04 issue Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery]

 

BONE MARROW STEM CELLS CAN CREATE CUSTOMIZED SKIN GRAFTS – adult stem cells taken from bone marrow can be used to create perfectly matched skin grafts for surgery following burns or other disfiguring accidents or even breast cancer. Scientists [Univ of IL, Chicago] have told the American Association for the Advancement of Science [Washington DC]  conference that they have stimulated stem cells from a human donor to develop into the fatty tissue of the skin. Jeremy Mao [prof of tissue engineering] said that female cancer patients undergoing a mastectomy may have their breast replacements grown from their own cells for reconstructive surgery. In mice experiments, skin replacement pieces were grown and could be guided to grow into desired shapes. “After four weeks we found the implant was indeed generating adipose tissue from stem cells, and that its shape and dimensions were well retained. The technique is also applicable for other soft tissue, facial tissue such as the lips and so on,” Professor Mao said. Mao said that a great advantage is that since the grafts are made from the patient’s own cells, there is no danger of immune system rejection. Jeffrey Chell [CEO, National Marrow Donor Program] said that unlike chemotherapy,  “transplantation is curative because it not only replaces the cells your body is missing, but these new donor cells actually seek out remaining cancer cells and kill them.” [D.C., 18Feb05 LifeSiteNews.com]

HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS continue to have problems. According to a Nature journal report on research at the Univ of Sheffield and WI, the embryonic stem cells grown in the lab “develop genetic abnormalities not there when they were first cultured”. [RTL Greater Cincinnati, 3/05]

WA STATE LEGISLATURE DEFEATS EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH BILL — The WA Senate killed the bill on a 26-23 vote. The measure would have banned reproductive cloning, or cloning designed to produce babies. However, it would have allowed the cloning and destruction of human embryos for scientific research. Initial trials using embryonic stem cells have proven disastrous with patients having injections of embryonic stem cells going into convulsions. The Univ of WA has been doing embryonic stem cell research for years, and that research will continue, despite the outcome of the measure. Human Life, a statewide pro-life group that led the fight against the bill, noted that an organization called Washingtonians for the Advancement of Medical Research was working to promote the embryonic stem cell research business in the state.  [http://www.lifenews.com/bio913.html;  Maria Vitale Gallagher, LifeNews.com, 13Apr05 Olympia, WA; N. Valko RN, 14Apr05]

WALL ST. FIRMS PLAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH, PROTESTS BEGIN — Several large firms on Wall Street have announced that they will engage in embryonic stem cell research. Large corporations such as Becton, Dickinson & Co., Invitrogen Corp., and Johnson & Johnson plan to conduct stem cell research using days-old unborn children. Meanwhile, General Electric Co. and the US-based headquarters of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG may also begin research programs involving the destruction of human embryos. The announcement didn’t go over well with investors as stocks from all of the companies traded lower 12Apr05 and were only helped when a general bull market momentum swung most stocks upwards by the closing bell. Still, shares of Johnson & Johnson traded lower and were off 25 cents on the day. Meanwhile, pro-life organizations have already called for a boycott of the companies involved. Debi Vinnedge, director of CoG for Life, is a longtime GE stockholder, but she said these decisions outraged her and her group. “Despite the declining value of the current market price of their stock, we are left with no choice but to sell it and re-invest in companies that are not involved in unethical research,” she said. She urged others to divest their portfolios of any stock in the companies. “Whether or not you are a shareholder in GE or any of the other companies … we encourage you to contact them at once, voice your complaint and threaten a boycott.”  [LifeNews.com, 13Apr05]

CALIF HUMAN CLONING, EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH GRANTS HALTED – Because of lawsuits filed with the CA Supreme Court against the CA committee charged with dispensing billions for human cloning & embryo-destructive stem cell research, donations for such research won’t be made until at least fall of 2005. That court ruled the lawsuits should have first been filed in lower state courts and the groups have now done that. The result is that the cloning and embryonic research grants will be delayed because the sale of bonds to raise funds for grants has to be postponed. “If you issue the bonds under a cloud, the bonds could be unmarketable,” said Barankin [spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer]. The lawsuits filed by consumer groups People’s Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, allege that the state is illegally funding the stem cell panel without being able to have oversight. The lawsuit also cites violations of conflict of interest and state open meetings laws. Dana Cody [Legal Defense Fdn: “I’m a taxpayer, and I don
‘t
want to fund something that a taxpayer has no control over. If they want to fund this research, they should use private funding.” [Argus; LifeNews.com, 12Apr05 Sacramento, CA]

STEM CELL TESTIMONY – FRC’s Director of Life and Women’s Issues, Pia de Solenni, Ph.D. gave the following testimony [MA State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Dev’t & Emerging Technologies] regarding adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research on February 16, 2005:
I am Dr. Pia de Solenni, director of life and women’s issues at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC. I speak to you today as an ethicist who has researched adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research from many perspectives.
Let’s take a moment to examine where we’re at in the cloning debate. While reproductive cloning has been removed from center stage, the focus on so-called therapeutic cloning continues to grow. At the same time, little attention has been given to advances in adult stem cell research. I would ask that these two research binders be included in the record of today’s testimony. This one represents a fraction of the advances in human adult stem cell research just for 2004. Over 30 peer-reviewed studies are included. Many more are available. This other binder, you will note, is curiously empty. It contains treatments from human embryonic stem cell research. After more than 20 years, cloning and embryonic stem cell research have not yielded a single cure. The hype is not unlike that surrounding the debates about the rain forest and fetal tissue research during the 1990s.
I also include a letter from June 18, 2004, written on behalf of Dr. Elias Zerhouni at the National Institutes of Health. The letter clearly details, “Currently, there are no proven therapies using embryonic stem cells, fetal germ cells or stem cells from cloned embryos to treat human diseases and disorders.” The letter also details about 80 successful treatments from adult stem cells. Members of this Committee, the science on embryonic stem cell research speaks for itself. At the same time, private investors have spoken by not investing. That’s why the industry needs a push from the government. Now, let us consider some of the ethical implications.
The focus on therapeutic cloning has been aimed at our heartstrings, prophesying cures for our loved ones, friends, and even movie stars. But what about the women who will be required even for these apparently noble intentions? Advocates of embryonic stem cell research are poised to create an industry built on the bodies of millions of women. The industry needs women because it needs our eggs. Somatic cell nuclear transfer involves transferring the nucleus from one of the specialized cells in the human body into an egg in which its own nucleus has been removed. No matter whether the clones or embryos are created for research or reproductive purposes, they must be created by using a woman’s egg.
Dr. David Prentice, formerly a professor of life sciences at Indiana State University, now at the Family Research Council, has crunched the numbers to show how many women would be involved just to cure diabetes. To date, the highest cloning efficiency with animals has been 20-30 percent. This means about 50 eggs per animal treatment are required. In the US, there are 17 million diabetes patients. Given the best successes with animal cloning, scientists would have to obtain a minimum of 850 million eggs, harvested from at least 85 million women. Scientist Peter Membaerts gives an even higher estimate of 100 eggs per treatment. According to the 2000 census, there are about 60 million American women of reproductive age. Where will the other eggs come from? And would all 60 million American women be amenable to this?
Women whose eggs are harvested undergo a long, uncomfortable, painful, and potentially dangerous process called ovarian hyperstimulation. Some of the drugs used have never been approved for this use by the FDA. Complications from the procedure include a potential link to ovarian cysts and cancers, severe pelvic pain, rupture of the ovaries, stroke, possible negative effects on future fertility, and even death.
In clinical studies using Pergonal for ovarian hyperstimulation, 2.4-5.5 percent of women developed complications. If we’re talking about 80 million women, that means at least 800,000 of them would develop complications. 224,000 would be classified as severe cases.
Similarly, the FDA’s data on Lupron, another drug used for ovarian hyperstimulation, records a death rate of .5 percent. That means we could expect 400,000 deaths in the group of 80 million women required to treat diabetes – just one disease.
Knowing this, most women would not consent to egg harvesting unless they felt they had no choice. Those who would consent would be women needing money, typically poor, ethnic minority women, students, and women from developing countries. Such women are not in a position to give informed consent because their financial need impairs their ability to adequately weigh the risks involved.
Calla Papademus was 22 and a Stanford student when in Fall 2000, she answered an ad offering $50,000 for egg donation. She agreed to $15,000. During the process of ovarian hyperstimulation, Calla suffered a stroke. For eight weeks, she slipped in and out of a coma. Eventually, she recovered, only to regret her decision.
In February 2003, a 33-year-old Irish woman died from ovarian hyperstimulation. She had hoped to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization.
For different reasons, both women underwent ovarian hyperstimulation as a way to attain their dreams and goals. Endorsing any form of legislation supporting embryonic stem cell research means putting even more women at risk of serious illness, disability, or even death.
In closing, let me make clear that this debate is not about abortion. This research has drawn opposition from both sides of the abortion debate, including Judy Norsigian, Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Judy and I stand on opposite sides of the abortion debate. But we are united in our conviction that women should not be harmed or put as risk as they would be if we were to promote embryonic stem cell research. The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective has articulated its position in a statement supported by 100 signatories, most of whom are considered key supporters of abortion. I have that statement here and ask that it also be entered in the record.
As long as profit depends on women’s bodies, we can be sure that the most vulnerable women will be aggressively pursued regardless of the risk to their health and happiness. In the name of science, the industry will literally have its hands inside the bodies of hundreds of millions of poor, disadvantaged women. As a woman, I can assure you that I do not want my body, or that of any woman or man, sacrificed on the altar of science. As an ethicist, I assure you that doing so constitutes a grave violation of human rights just as we saw in the Tuskegee experiments here in the United States and in the Nazi experiments of World War II. Thank you.

‘PRO-LIFE’ MEANS PROTECTING ALL LIFE – Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) had this to say on the House floor regarding stem cell research: “The truth is that embryonic stem cell research is perfectly legal in the U.S. Every lab in America could do embryonic stem cell research,” he said. “The issue here is who is going to pay for it? The federal government should not. It is unnecessary research and it is unethical.” So why do Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and other supposedly pro-life Members of Congress continue to spread lies about stem cell research? The truth is there has never been a successful medical treatment from embryonic stem cells, which is why the greedy bio-tech industry wants your tax dollars.
Further, FRC and virtually all organizations of any political stripe support stem cell research. As Dr. Weldon has continually attempted to get across to the American public, “Adult stem cells
have been used in humans to tr
eat Parkinson’s Disease, to partially restore vision to the legally blind, relieve systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cure tumors, neuroblastomas, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal cell carcinoma…” Why are “pro-life” Members of Congress advocating that we turn a blind eye to the phenomenal successes of adult stem cell research in order to fund the destruction of innocent human life? Send your elected officials an email by clicking on the link below and ask them where they stand – and don’t be fooled by misinformation. Also on our website, you can link to Dr. Weldon’s full comments, as well as a great editorial by former Reagan advisor William Clark who proves that not all of Reagan’s friends are using his legacy to push bad science.
[Additional: Dr. Dave Weldon’s Floor Speech on Stem Cell Research http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=NW04F12&f=WU04F11&t=e
For Reagan, All Life Was Sacred http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=LK04F23&f=WU04F11&t=e
Stem Cell Research, Cloning and Human Embryos http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=BC04C01&f=WU04F11&t=e]