Stem Cell - Archive

August 2006: Cloning & Stem Cell Research

Company Opens First Stem Cell Bank for Adult Stem Cells From Baby Teeth 

South Korea Turns to Adult Stem Cells

Adult Stem Cells from Adipose (Fat) Tissue Used to Repair Damage of Breast Surgery

White House Softens Tone on Embryo Use

EU Reaches Compromise on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Fund

Scientists Grow Sperm from Embryo-Destructive Stem Cell Research

Adult Stem Cell Research Benefits Spinal Cord Patients

Patent Debate Stalling Embryo-Destructive Stem Cell Research

Concerns Growing that Some Researchers Will Stop at Nothing in the  Lab

COMPANY OPENS FIRST STEM CELL BANK FOR ADULT STEM CELLS FROM BABY TEETH. Children who lose their teeth could gain more than just a dollar if they give them to Austin, Texas-based startup company BioEDEN Inc [http://www.bioeden.com/].

The company has opened up the first stem cell bank dedicated to stem cells harvested from baby teeth. The cells form a child's tooth could one day be used to treat the child herself to help with a debilitating disease or condition. Right now, scientists have only been able to use the teeth stem cells to create new teeth for others broken by accidents, but they may have other potential uses as scientists examine them over the coming years. "I think these cells have more therapeutic potential than we realize," BioEDEN spokeswoman Robin Remaley said. "We can't prove it, but we believe it."

BioEDEN touts its work as an ethical alternative to embryonic stem cell research. The month-old company's business model is based on a 2003 study by scientists from the National Institutes of Health, who found baby teeth contained stem cells that appeared capable of becoming a variety of cell types. BioEDEN founder Jeff Johnson, an Oklahoma entrepreneur, hopes dentists will refer patients to the service, which is available to anyone in the United States. [28July06 Austin, TX LifeNews.com; http://www.bioeden.com/]  

SO KOREA TURNS TO ADULT STEM CELLS. The major research clinic at Seoul National Univ where the disgraced Dr. Hwang’s team was based, has announced it will now use the site & equipment as a gene therapy clinic to focus on adult stem cell research. [Cincinatti Rt to Life, June/July 2006]

STEM CELLS USED TO REPAIR DAMAGE OF BREAST SURGERY. Three women have had breast cancer surgery in which their own stem cells were implanted to help grow new tissue to repair the damage. Around the world scientists are investigating the potential of stem cells – parent cells that have the potential to develop into other types, in this case blood vessels to help grafts to take.

Stem cells derived from the women's fat (adipose) tissue were implanted this week after cancer surgery in an attempt to improve reconstruction. The trial on 20 women is being conducted by a team led by Dr Keizo Sugimachi, president of Kyushu Central Hospital in Fukuoka Japan, in conjunction with the American company Cytori Therapeutics.

A partial mastectomy, where part of the breast is removed in keyhole surgery followed by radiation treatment, can be effective in the treatment of breast cancer but often results in significant skin damage and tissue loss.
The team believes that the stem cells will create new blood vessels to help fat tissue implanted at the same time to survive. "Adipose tissue is a rich source for stem cells and other regenerative cells that are believed to contribute to repair and healing," said Dr Sugimachi.

"Adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells could potentially offer breast cancer patients the option to use their own cells to restore a natural breast contour following surgery, obviating the need for an implant or complicated surgical procedure." Yesterday, a woman in her forties, the third this week, took part in a feasibility study on breast cancer patients who had undergone a partial mastectomy, said Dr Kitamura Kaoru, a surgeon. She said she expected to know within six months if the stem cell reconstructions had been successful.

Each woman had a small volume of fatty tissue removed from one or more of the body's normal deposits, using a glorified version of liposuction. Using the "celution system" method developed by Cytori, the team extracted and concentrated a stem cell-enriched fraction and injected it into the affected breast after fat had been implanted to replace the cancerous tissue.

"The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the safety of adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells," said Dr Marc Hedrick, the president of Cytori. "We believe the effect of the celution output is safe and may improve the appearance of the breast after cancer surgery."

Dr Hedrick's team at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the first to report that stem cells reside in adipose tissue. The celution system is designed to isolate and concentrate a patient's stem cells from adipose tissue in about an hour. Earlier this year, his team announced animal experiments that suggested that the stem cells, in combination with a fat graft, improved survival of the transplanted tissue.

"Adipose stem and regenerative cells improve the long-term viability of soft tissue transfer, which holds promising implications for breast reconstruction," said Dr Hedrick. In the pre-clinical study, fat tissue transfers were performed in 30 animals, which were divided into three groups of 10. A supplement of adipose stem and regenerative cells was injected into the grafts of half of the animals in ea

ch group. After 6 months, a statistically significant, three-times greater weight retention was observed in the grafts injected with adipose stem and regenerative cells compared with the control group. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=GIJBH5RCEXQ4HQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/05/27/wstem27.xml, Roger Highfield, Science Editor, 27/05/2006]

WHITE HOUSE SOFTENS TONE ON EMBRYO USE. President Bush does not consider stem cell research using human embryos to be murder, the White House said yesterday, reversing its description of his position just days after he vetoed legislation to lift federal funding restrictions on the hotly disputed area of study. White House press secretary Tony Snow said yesterday that he "overstated the president's position" during a briefing last week but said Bush rejected the bill because "he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans."

The shifting terminology underscored the sensitivity of the issue, especially heading into midterm elections. Many conservatives strongly oppose stem cell research involving the destruction of embryos, viewing it as killing human beings…

In using the first veto of his presidency to preserve federal funding restrictions, Bush reassured social conservatives who have grown uncertain about his leadership. Snow described Bush's position last Tuesday, the day before the veto. "The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He's one of them," Snow said from the White House. "The simple answer is he thinks murder's wrong." The president did not use that term the next day at the veto ceremony, but he did say he objected to the legislation because it "would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others." Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," grilled White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten on Sunday about whether Bush agreed with Snow's characterization. Bolten avoided a direct answer several times and then finally said, "I haven't spoken to him about the use of particular terminology." At yesterday's briefing, Snow retracted his statement and apologized. "I overstepped my brief there, and so I created a little trouble for Josh Bolten in the interview," Snow said. "And I feel bad about it.” "So the president does not regard this as murder?" a reporter asked. "He would not use that term," Snow said…

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a group that opposes embryonic stem cell research, said he does not see much significance in the White House revision. "I'm not troubled by that at all," he said. "The president's actions speak louder than words." [The Washington Post Company By Peter Baker, 25July06; A07, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/24/AR2006072400990_pf.html]

EU REACHES COMPROMISE ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH FUND. The European Union has reached a compromise on the issue of funding embryonic stem cell research. It would make sure that the EU does not directly pay for embryonic stem cell research but member nations would be free to use EU science funds they receive to pay for it in their own countries.

The compromise means that some money from the EU's $65 billion science budget will fund some embryonic stem cell research over the 2007-2013 period that it covers. But it also includes consessions to nations oppose to embryonic stem cell research that the funding would not go to pay for destroying human embryos but rather for research on existing embryonic stem cells or on research conducted after the destruction of human life has taken place.

A coalition of nations, led by Germany, had been working to block any funding for embryonic stem cell research and appeared to be on the verge of winning the debate. However, Finland, which holds the EU presidency this year, proposed the compromise and Slovenia, one of the members of the coalition, reversed its position and supported it. [25July06, Belgium, LifeNews.com]
 

ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH BENEFITS SPINAL CORD PATIENTS like Christopher Reeve. Before his death, Superman actor Christopher Reeve captured the hearts of millions with his deeply felt pitch for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. However, new studies show that its adult stem cells that are beginning to offer the most hope for those paralyzed from spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Carlos Lima of Portugal has recently published research showing restored motor function and sensation in a few paralyzed patients using adult stem cells obtained from a patient's own nose. Lima and his research team demonstrated that a patient's own adult stem cells and olfactory mucosa can treat paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. "Every patient had improvement in ASIA motor scores," Lima wrote in his team's paper.

"This study shows that olfactory mucosa autograft transplantation into the human injured spinal cord is feasible, relatively safe, and potentially beneficial."

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, reports on seven patients treated with the procedure. Lima has since treated two dozen more patients. Two of the seven patients regained bladder control and one regained control of the anal sphincter. None of the patients had any complications other than normal ones seen in any surgery.  [25July06, Portugal, LifeNews.com]

 SCIENTISTS GROW SPERM FROM E-D STEM CELLS. Scientists have turned stem cells from an embryo into sperm that are capable of producing offspring, it was announced 10July06.

The advance in reproductive science raises new opportunities to treat male infertility and the possibility that women could make sperm. The professor behind the research believes that, when safe, the advance could help men with certain types of infertility to become fertile, to remain fertile for longer and, controversially, could even one day enable a lesbian couple to have children that, at the genetic level, are truly their own.

The experiment used embryo cells to produce seven baby mice, six of which lived to adulthood, though the survivors suffered problems of the kind als

o seen with cloning. A team led by Prof Karim Nayernia isolated embryonic stem cells from a blastocyst, an embryo only a few days old that consists of a cluster of cells. These cells were grown in the laboratory and screened to sort out the spermatogonial stem cells, which were genetically marked, grown and then injected into female mouse eggs and grown into early-stage embryos.
After transplant into female mice, seven babies resulted. Six developed into adult mice, though the animals were either too small or too large, and they died prematurely.

The advance, reported yesterday in the journal Developmental Cell, helps scientists understand more about how animals produce sperm, creates more opportunities to carry out genetic alteration of animals, and shows that cells may one day be coaxed in the laboratory to make sperm to treat infertility.
In the long term, cloning methods could be used to turn a skin cell from a man into sperm and Prof Nayernia said it was even possible that it could be achieved using a cell from a woman.

Harry Moore, Professor of Reproductive Biology, University of Sheffield, said: "The latest findings also highlight that these processes in the test tube are far from perfect as the mice that were born by this process were abnormal. We therefore have to be very cautious about using such techniques in therapies to treat men or women who are infertile due to a lack of germ stem cells until all safety aspects are resolved. This may take many years." [11July2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/11/nstem11.xml, Roger Highfield, Science Editor; related: 27 May 2006: Stem cells used to repair damage of breast surgery: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=GIJBH5RCEXQ4HQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/05/27/wstem27.xml]

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/11/nstem11.xml, Roger Highfield, Science Editor; related: 27 May 2006: Stem cells used to repair damage of breast surgery: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=GIJBH5RCEXQ4HQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/news/2006/05/27/wstem27.xml]

 

PATENT DEBATE STALLING EMBRYO-DESTRUCTIVE STEM CELL RESEARCH. Researchers and consumer groups are clashing over whether a Wisconsin group should benefit from the therapies other researchers may find from the cells.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) currently holds three patents that it says essentially give it rights over all of the human embryonic stem cells in the U.S. If that's true, then any scientist or group that produces therapies from embryonic stem cells would have to get permission from WAR or pay it royalties from the profits derived from a therapy.

One researcher, Jeanne Loring, who directs human embryonic stem cell research at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in California, told the Contra Costa Times newspaper that the patent dispute is driving some scientists overseas. "The patents are impeding our research," Loring said. "They're more important than what's going on in the Senate right now. "It is making scientists go overseas to do this sort of research," she added.

"It isn't the funding that's sending us overseas. It's the patent issues." Loring said scientists can easily obtain licenses to work with the embryonic stem cells but the problems would come into play if they ever produced therapies, which none have so far. But biotech firms must pay anywhere from $75,000 to 250,000.  [25July06, WI, LifeNews.com]

CONCERNS GROWING THAT SCIENTISTS WILL STOP AT NOTHING IN RESEARCH LAB. The Hastings Center’s Joe Palca gave an interview to NPR recently in which he makes it clear that those who are committed to killing innocent human embryos for “scientific research” will press ahead with a wink and a nod from the government: “There are virtually no restrictions on the kind of stem-cell research that may be done in this country. The federal restrictions are on the use of federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research. With private money, scientists can do practically anything they want.” [ALL News, June 2006]