Stem Cell - Archive

April 2006: Stem Cell & Cloning Research

Hwang Did Clone Snuppy

Hair Follicle Stem Cells

Schatten May Have Stolen Stem Cell Research Technology

CA ESCR Moving Forward With $14M From Bonds Sales

Complete Bladders Grown From Patients’ Own Cells

US Researchers Also Find Embryonic-Like Stem Cells in Testicles

HWANG DID CLONE SNUPPY. Although So. Korea’s Hwang was found to have fabricated almost all cloning and ESCR , “exhaustive investigation has determined that they did successfully clone Snuppy”, the world’s first cloned dog, from ear skin cells of an Afghan dog.

“Nearly 100,000 dog embryos were created and transferred into 123 surrogate female dogs. Ultimately, only 3 pregnancies survived. One died in miscarriage; a second died 22 days after birth…This incredibly large mortality percentage is another reason” to avoid cloning humans. [J. Willke, MD, Cincinnati Right to Life, 3/06]

HAIR FOLLICLE STEM CELLS. The firm Anti-Cancer has used hair follicle stem cells to repair nerve damage in mice. These stem cells are readily obtainable, and according to the research report, would provide “an ethically superior alternative to fetal and embryonic stem cells.” [J. Willke, MD, Cincinnati Right to Life, 3/06]

SCHATTEN MAY HAVE STOLEN STEM CELL RESEARCH TECHNOLOGY From Hwang Woo-suk.  South Korea KBS television station is alleging that Univ of Pittsburgh scientist Gerald Schatten stole cloning and stem cell research technology for use in his own efforts to obtain American patents for the research “… in the United States for a technology needed for nuclear transfer of animal somatic cells, about nine months ahead of Hwang,” Moon said.

Moon told the Times that South Korea is required to ask the U.S. government not to issue the patent for the cloning technology since technically it belongs to Hwang’s team.  [KBS; Korea Times; LifeNews.com, 7Apr06]

CALIFORNIA STEM CELL RESEARCH AGENCY WILL GET $14M FROM BONDS SALES. With its financial resources drying up and two lawsuits filed against it keeping other funds tied up in court, the California committee set up to distribute taxpayer funds for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research approved selling short-term bonds to raise some quick cash. Klein said the committee may sell as much as $50 million in short term bonds “incrementally in the near future.” [LifeNews.com, 7Apr06]

COMPLETE BLADDERS GROWN FROM PATIENTS’ OWN CELLS. Tissue engineering may one day be a solution to shortage of donor organs. Complete urinary bladders grown from patients’ own cells have been transplanted and functioning for as long as 4 years [researchers, Lancet 3Apr06].

Dubbed the “neo-bladders,” the new organs have been working fine and have significantly improved the health of 7 young patients aged 4-19 who suffer from spina bifida.  Anthony Atala [Lead researcher, Wake Forest Univ School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC] said they are “very pleased” with the way the bladders are working. Atala led the work with Alan Retik at Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The organs were grown from cells obtained from postage-stamp sized tissue biopsy, grown for two months and surgically transferred to the patients. The “neo-bladders” have avoided the problem of immune system rejection that is common with ordinary organ transplants as well as a host of medical problems found with other types of surgically constructed bladders.

Professor Atala said, “This suggests that tissue engineering may one day be a solution to the shortage of donor organs in this country for those needing transplants.”

The researchers believe that the technique could be applied to creating more than a dozen different organs, including blood-vessel complexes, partial kidneys and perhaps hearts.

Embryonic stem cells have long been touted as the door to curing diseases and replacing injured body parts, but thus far there have been few concrete successes. The medical problems of immune system rejection [& tumor formation], in addition to the overarching objection that use of embryo cells kills a living embryonic human person, has turned researchers attention to adult cells.

This breakthrough may help to lessen the demand for organ donation from living patients. The ethical problems surrounding organ donation and transplants have grown with the redefinition of death to include “brain death” in patients whose heart is still beating.

Traditional medical ethicists have said that such patients are alive and are only killed by the removal of vital organs. [LifeSiteNews.com, 4Apr04, by Hilary White]

U.S. RESEARCHERS ALSO FIND EMBRYONIC-LIKE STEM CELLS IN TESTICLES. Researchers in California say they have found stem cells in men’s testicles that have embryonic stem cell-like qualities.

They have been able to prompt the cells to turn into nerve, heart and bone cells and the discovery could be another alternative to embryonic stem cell research. Scientists at the California-based PrimeGen Biotech presented their results to fellow researchers at a meeting of stem cell scientists in Spain on 1Apr06.

Their findings follow on the heels of an announcement last week from German researchers who found new adult stem cells in mice testicles that have similar properties to embryonic stem cells. Francisco Silva and colleagues say they took the German research a step further and found the same adult stem cells in human testicles.

“Germ cells isolated from adult human testis can be therapeutically reprogrammed to have the ability to differentiate into cells that can be used therapeutically for cell-based regenerative medicine,” Silva’s team wrote in a paper.

“We have taken the most well preserved, highest-quality stem cell and made it pluripotent (capable of growing into any cell type), representing one of the most significant breakthroughs in regenerative medicine,” Yuen explained. “These cells advance the potential for cellular replacement therapy for everyone.”

According to Silva, the findings have been confirmed by an independent German laboratory. Dr. Gerd Hasenfuss, of Georg-August University in Gottingen, indicated his team was also beginning to study the cells in human males and has found similar results so far. “These isolated spermatogonial stem cells respond to culture conditions and acquire embryonic stem cell properties,” he wrote about the new cells. If the results can be repeated in people, Hasenfuss said the cells could result in patient-specific matches “without the ethical and immunological problems associated with human embryonic stem cells.” [4Apr06, LifeNews.com, Sacramento, CA]