Stem Cell - Archive

August 2005: Stem Cell & Cloning Research

New Harvard Research May Point to a Moral Procedure for Obtaining Pluripotent Stem Cells 

Stem Cell Research Websites

Adult Stem Cell Research Quietly Progressing

Adult Stem Cells May Generate Oocytes (Egg Cells)

Korea Doctors Use Adult Stem Cell Research to Fix Skin Damage

California Embryo-Destructive Stem Cell Research Grants Still Delayed; More…

For past Stem Cell Research headlines, click here. 

STEM CELL RESEARCH WEBSITES
ClinicalTrials.gov – Amazing list of over 250 grants through NIH; at least half deal with non-embryonic stem cell research.
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/search?term=%22stem+cells%22&submit=Search

With patient’s own cells, heart vessels and tissue show mending http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3277225

Check the Score  http://stemcellresearch.org/

Diseases Treated Now with Cord Blood Stem Cells:  http://www.viacord.com/what_diseases_treated.htm

Why Cord Blood is the Premier Source of Stem Cells
http://www.viacord.com/what_why_premier_source.htm

NEW RESEARCH MAY POINT TO MORAL PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS –    Scientists at Harvard have turned ordinary human skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells – known as pluripotent stem cells – using a new reprogramming process. The scientists’ findings are set to be published in the next edition of the journal Science and if the method proves successful it may pave the way for production of pluripotent stem cells without destroying human embryos. Two prominent opponents of embryo-destructive research say that the new procedure is not without problems but both agreed the findings represent a step in the direction of ethical stem cell research.
 
Scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, according to a press release from the organization, fused “an entire skin cell to an existing embryonic stem cell. The result is a hybrid cell with two sets of genetic material, one from each parent. . . . [T]hey found that the fused hybrids retain many of the properties of embryonic stem cells, including the ability to differentiate into multiple adult cells types.” 
 
Wesley J. Smith, a widely regarded expert on bioethics and the author of several books on the topic, sees potential in the proposal. “If this procedure works, it could put an end to therapeutic cloning since it could do away with the need to use cloning to derive pluripotent stem cells that would not be rejected by the body. In this sense, it could be very valuable, since it could make a cloning ban easier to pass.” But Smith also urged caution. “I do believe the better and more moral course for obtaining efficacious treatments, if they work, would be adult stem cells, since they would use the patient’s own cells for therapy without the need of genetic engineering or using embryonic stem cells. Still, this study is potentially very good news for anyone who is opposed to human cloning.”
 
Since the procedure requires an embryonic stem cell to be fused with a normal cell, an ethicist has  warned that if that stem cell were obtained though the intentional destruction of a human embryo, questions of cooperation with evil would have to be considered. But… the research is a step in the right direction.
 
The idea of reprogramming human somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells was proposed in “Alternative Sources of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells,” a report released by the President’s Council on Bioethics in May. The report examined four possible ways of obtaining embryonic-like stem cells without destroying a human embryo. [Culture of Life Foundation.Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
 (202) 289-2500, Fax: (202) 289-2502;  http://www.culture-of-life.org

 

BEHIND THE TIMES – The timing of Senator Bill Frist’s (R-TN) contradictory speech [the end of July] in support of embryo-destructive stem cell could not have been more “out of joint.”

In the time surrounding Senator Frist’s statement there have been extraordinary news on ethical adult stem cell research – while embryo-destructive stem cell research continues to show little advancement.

Just yesterday it was reported in Korea that a team of scientists has developed a breakthrough technology to heal burn victims by transplanting skin cells enriched from the patients’ own stem cells.

Also 2Aug05, ABC News reported that doctors at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital have started injecting adult stem cells into the leg to grow new arteries, helping at least one patient avoid amputation.

In addition, researchers with Cardiac Stem Cell Therapies at The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine are using high concentrations of these cells to actually build new arteries in adult patients.

Results in more than 100 patients show that, just three months after the stem cell injections, patients see a significant improvement in blood flow to the heart.

The heart muscle itself actually doubles its ability to squeeze or contract.

Researchers say these adult stem cells might help tens of millions of heart patients each year.

Adult stem cells currently are used in close to 260 human clinical trials.

Senator Frist, a heart surgeon, should be aware of these advances. With all this information out there on ethical adult stem cell research, why would Senator Frist insist taxpayer monies be spent on failed, unethical embryonic stem cell approaches?
[Washington Update, FRC.org, 3Aug05]

 

ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH QUIETLY PROGRESSING As Congress passionately debates the merits/ethics of embryo-destructive stem cell research, nearly 50 Osiris Therappeutics Inc. employees continue their work on adult stem cells. Thanks to FDA fast-track designation, Osiris expects to have an adult stem cell-based therapy on the market by late 2007 to combat tissue rejection among leukemia patients. “That’s 1 of 3 adult stem cell-based therapies Osiris currently has in human trials, to the delight of investors who muscled their way into the company’s latest funding round to raise $50 million, more than double the expected amount.”  Another human clinical trial squirts adult stem cells into damaged knees after surgery to regrow meniscus. The third experimental therapy being tested in humans [incl. patients at Johns Hopkins Univ School of Medicine] uses adult stem cells to help replace tissue damaged by heart attacks. Meanwhile, Dr. Amil Patel [dir, Univ  of Pittsburgh medical ctr’s cardiac cell therapy ctr] is using adult stem cells in an FDA-approved, university-financed safety trial to repair failing hearts. Because the patients in the trial are awaiting heart transplants, Patel et al will be able to study their original h
eart after transplant to d
etermine the impact of stem cell therapy. [The newest research has also found very pluripotent stem cells in the Wharton’s Jelly of the umbilical cord itself – see below] To Wall Street…non-embryonic adult stem cell therapies, within a decade, stand a very real chance of producing earnings for investors. Embryonic stem cells, however, possess only therapeutic potential; research remains controversial and minimally funded [$39 million is minimal?] by the federal gov’t, because current techniques destroy human embryos as stem cells are extracted. [Boston Globe, 20June05; from AAPLOG]       David Stevens, MD [CMDA Exec Dir]: “Note that tech investors are pouring money into adult stem cell research because they know what most reporters have failed to grasp. Embryonic stem cell salesman (Oops! I mean researchers) have little to show for the millions of dollars and 7 years that have gone into their research. Adult stem cell research is already providing real cures for real patients.” Phase I and Phase II human trials are already underway using umbilical or bone marrow stem cells to treat the very diseases that ESC proponents tout they will someday be able to cure. Even laying the moral issue aside of destroying embryos, it just makes plain sense to put our research dollars into areas that will get the cures for our patients the fastest. [DeCook, AAPLOG, 23June05]

ADULT STEM CELLS MAY GENERATE OOCYTES – A study published 29July05 in Cell by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers provides another compelling example of the tremendous flexibility of adult stem cells. Last year this group overturned scientific dogma, showing that ovaries can potentially generate new eggs (oocytes).

The report confirms the earlier finding and tracks down the source: adult stem cells in the bone marrow! Both in mice and in humans, some adult stem cells in the bone marrow show a cycle of genes normally expressed only in eggs, and migrate from the bone marrow, through the bloodstream, to the ovary where they form new eggs.

In their experiments, scientists could restore egg production in the ovaries of sterilized female mice using bone marrow or blood stem cells transplanted from fertile mice.

Jonathan Tilly, PhD [dir, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology at MGH, research team leader]: “This could lead to new treatment approaches based not on drugs but on regenerative medicine through adult stem cells.”

This newly-documented result with adult stem cells simply adds to the rapidly growing evidence that some adult stem cells are “pluripotent,” able to form most or all body tissues. While adult stem cells move ahead with positive results and therapies, embryonic stem cell research continues to flail. The Senate should take note of adult stem cell successes as they consider various bills to promote either embryonic or adult stem cell research. [FRC, 30July05; “Bone marrow may be source of new egg-cell generation in adult mammals” – Follow-up to landmark 2004 paper expands new understanding of female reproductive biology, Boston, MGH – 27July05; July 29 issue of Cell; http://www.massgeneral.org/news/releases/072705tilly.html]

 

KOREAN DOCTORS USE ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH TO FIX SKIN DAMAGE — Patients with burns and other types of skin damage may be able to be healed with their own adult stem cells, as a result of a new breakthrough by South Korean doctors. The discovery is another example of the usefulness of the adult stem cells, cited by many as an alternative to embryonic stem cell research.

A team of scientists at the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences revealed the new technique of using stem cells to mass produce skin cells. Son Young-sook told the Korea Times, “We extracted skin stem cells from a burn patient’s epidermis, cultured them and increased their number by 200 times outside his body in two weeks.” “Then we transplanted them back to the patient and got a satisfactory result,” Son explained.

The new therapy allows skin damage patients another option in addition to conventional methods of transplanting skin cells and it cuts in half the number of surgeries required to do so. “In the past, we had to carry out two operations for a skin wound; first to implant collagen at the burned parts and again to transplant skin cells,” Son said. [Seoul, South Korea LifeNews.com 3Aug05]

 

CA EMBRYO-DESTRUCTIVE STEM CELL RESEARCH GRANTS STILL DELAYED — As a handful of lawsuits against the committee charged with distributing billions in grants for embryonic stem cell research have their first day in court, advocates of the unproven research are complaining that the lawsuits could hold up the funding for years. California voters approved a $6 billion measure in 2004 to authorize taxpayer funds for the grisly practices, but three lawsuits filed over problems with conflicts of interest, intellectual property rights are holding up the funds.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine can’t finance the sale of bonds to fund projects until the lawsuits have concluded. Two of the lawsuits have their first hearing in an Alameda County court Thursday. Until the lawsuits are completed, the panel is seeking help from anti-disease groups that favor the unproven research, but even that idea faces roadblocks and the potential of more lawsuits.

James Harrison, CIRM’s attorney, contends some are hoping to drag out the endless lawsuits to prevent funding as long as they can. “Frankly I think that’s the plaintiffs’ goal,” he said. “Drag this out, delay it in any way they can, impede the funding of stem-cell research.” But the people behind the lawsuits tell the San Jose Mercury News that’s not the case. “I’ve never brought a lawsuit for delaying tactics in my life,” said David Llewellyn, Jr., who filed one of the lawsuits. “I’m absolutely convinced there were several very substantial constitutional violations in Prop. 71.” [Sacramento, CA LifeNews.com, 3 Aug05]