Adult & Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Research (Ethical)

Lupus Sufferers Symptom Free Since Adult Stem Cell Treatment (JAMA 2/06)

Nonmyeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus JAMA. 2006;295:527-535; Vol. 295 No. 5, 1Feb 2006     Context  Manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may in most patients be ameliorated with medications that suppress the immune system. Nevertheless, there remains a subset of SLE patients for whom current strategies are insufficient to control disease. Objective  To assess the safety of intense immunosuppression and autologous hematopoietic stem cell support in patients with severe and treatment-refractory SLE.   Design, Setting, and Participants  A single-arm trial of 50 patients with SLE refractory to standard immunosuppressive therapies and either organ- or life-threatening visceral involvement. Patients were enrolled from April 1997 through January 2005 in an autologous nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) study at a single US medical center. Interventions  Peripheral blood stem cells were mobilized with cyclophosphamide (2.0 g/m2) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (5 µg/kg per day), enriched ex vivo by CD34+ immunoselection, cryopreserved, and reinfused after treatment with cyclophosphamide (200 mg/kg) and equine antithymocyte globulin (90 mg/kg). Main Outcome Measures  The primary end point was survival, both overall and disease-free. Secondary end points included SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), serology (antinuclear antibody [ANA] and anti–double-stranded (ds) DNA), complement C3 and C4, and changes in renal and pulmonary organ function assessed before treatment and at 6 months, 12 months, and then yearly for 5 years. Results  Fifty patients were enrolled and underwent stem cell mobilization. Two patients died after mobilization, one from disseminated mucormycosis and another from active lupus after postponing the transplantation for 4 months. Forty-eight patients underwent nonmyeloablative HSCT. Treatment-related mortality was 2% (1/50). By intention to treat, treatment-related mortality...

Watch Out, Tooth Fairy! Baby Teeth as a Unique Source of Postnatal Stem Cells (4/03)

Scientists report for the first time that “baby” teeth, the temporary teeth that children begin losing around their sixth birthday, contain a rich supply of stem cells in their dental pulp. The researchers say this unexpected discovery could have important implications because the stem cells remain alive inside the tooth for a short time after it falls out of a child’s mouth, suggesting the cells could be readily harvested for research. According to the scientists who published their findings online 21 April 2003 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the stem cells are unique compared to many “adult” stem cells in the body. Baby teeth stem cells are long lived, grow rapidly in culture, and, with careful prompting in the laboratory, have the potential to induce the formation of specialized dentin, bone, and neuronal cells. If followup studies extend these initial findings, the scientists speculate they may have identified an important and easily accessible source of stem cells that possibly could be manipulated to repair damaged teeth, induce the regeneration of bone, and treat neural injury or disease. “Doctors have successfully harvested stem cells from umbilical cord blood for years,” said Dr. Songtao Shi, a scientist at NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the senior author on the paper. “Our finding is similar in some ways, in that the stem cells in the tooth are likely latent remnants of an early developmental process.” Shi and colleagues named the cells SHED, which stands for Stem cells from Human Exfoliated Deciduous teeth. The term “deciduous teeth” is the formal name for what most people call...

Current Applications of Adult Stem Cells for Human Patients (2005)

from DoNoHarm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethicswww.stemcellresearch.org  CURRENT APPLICATIONS OF ADULT STEM CELLS FOR HUMAN PATIENTS                 (not a complete listing) (sample of references) ADULT STEM CELLS–HEMATOPOIETIC REPLACEMENTCANCERS BRAIN TUMORS—medulloblastoma and gliomaDunkel, IJ; “High-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell rescue for malignant brain tumors”; Cancer Invest. 18, 492-493; 2000.Abrey, LE et al.; “High dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell rescue in adults with malignant primary brain tumors”; J. Neurooncol. 44, 147-153; Sept., 1999Finlay, JL; “The role of high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell rescue in the treatment of malignant brain tumors: a reappraisal”; Pediatr. Transplant 3 Suppl. 1, 87-95; 1999 RETINOBLASTOMAHertzberg H et al.; “Recurrent disseminated retinoblastoma in a 7-year-old girl treated successfully by high-dose chemotherapy and CD34-selected autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation”; Bone Marrow Transplant 27(6), 653-655; March 2001Dunkel IJ et al.; “Successful treatment of metastatic retinoblastoma”; Cancer 89, 2117-2121; Nov 15 2000 OVARIAN CANCERStiff PJ et al.; “High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation for ovarian cancer: An autologous blood and marrow transplant registry report”; Ann. Intern. Med. 133, 504-515; Oct. 3,2000Schilder, RJ and Shea, TC; “Multiple cycles of high-dose chemotherapy for ovarian cancer”; Semin. Oncol. 25, 349-355; June 1998 MERKEL CELL CARCINOMAWaldmann V et al.; “Transient complete remission of metastasized merkel cell carcinoma by high-dose polychemotherapy and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation”; Br. J. Dermatol. 143,837-839; Oct 2000 TESTICULAR CANCERBhatia S et al.; “High-dose chemotherapy as initial salvage chemotherapy in patients with relapsed testicular cancer”; J. Clin. Oncol. 18, 3346-3351; Oct. 19, 2000Hanazawa, K et al.; “Collection of peripheral blood stem cells with granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor alone in testicular cancer patients”; Int. J. Urol. 7, 77-82;...

Actual Uses for Adult Stem Cells – Bibliography (4/2005)

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthroughs, Treatments and Cures Spinal Cord Injuries – olfactory glial cells from the lining of the patient’s nose (1,2) or from umbilical cord stem cells (3) Skull Bone Repair – girl’s own bone and adult stem cells to repair 19 sq in. of her skull (4) Liver Repair – adult stem cells (5) Heart Muscle Regeneration – adult stem cells (6, 7, 8, 9) Blindness/Sight Regained – adult stem cell transplants (10) Crohn’s Disease – adult stem cells from patients’ own blood (11) Systemic Lupus – 90% of 19 patients with autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, are in remissionor have improved after treatment with their own blood stem cells (12) Multiple Sclerosis – one patient improved after treatment with his own blood stem cells (13) Parkinson’s – average improvement of 61% increase of coordination and fewer symptoms after transplants of the patient’s own neuronal stem cells (14) Leukemia – 14 of 18 patients freed of the disease; adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood (15) Sickle Cell Anemia – “Hematopoietic adult stem cells successfully treated over 200 patients. The success rate has been 80-85%.” (16) Rheumatoid Arthritis – patient free of the disease one year after treatment with her sister’s adult stem cells. (17) Incontinence – 18 of 20 patients remain continent one year later (18). Neurological Disorders – adult stem cells from the pulp of baby teeth may be extremely useful in growing replacement brain tissue to overcome stroke damage (19) Chagas Disease is a potentially lethal parasitic condition attacking heart tissue; it kills 6 million people worldwide every year. Adult stem cells from...

Human Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Form Bone, Nerve, Heart Cells (ViaCell, 7/04)

Novel Unrestricted Somatic Stem Cells (USSCs) offer potential medical breakthrough — ViaCell, Inc., a cellular therapy company dedicated to enabling the widespread application of human cells as medicine, and the Int’l NETCORD Fdn, the leading international network of public umbilical cord blood banks, announced the publication of a peer-reviewed article in The Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM).  For the first time, using novel cells found in human umbilical cord blood, researchers have shown the ability to grow bone, cartilage, hematopoietic (blood), neural, liver and heart tissue in in vivo studies.  The article is entitled, “A new human somatic stem cell from placental cord blood with intrinsic pluripotent differentiation potential”, 19July 2004 issue, vol. 200, no. 2, of JEM. Dr. Peter Wernet, the President of NETCORD, commented, “To our knowledge, we are the first group to demonstrate that neonatal somatic stem cells [i.e., stem cells from newborn babies] can be robustly expanded in vitro under pharmaceutical conditions to very large numbers and can differentiate, in vivo, into a number of tissue types and take on the properties and specific functions of the cells in those tissues.”  This discovery was made by Dr. Wernet, Dr. G. Koegler and scientists at ViaCell. This article describes the isolation and expansion of ViaCell’s proprietary USSC from human umbilical cord blood.  This cell type can be expanded in number under culture conditions published in the article.  The USSC has demonstrated a capacity to turn into several different cell types in vivo, including brain, bone, cartilage, liver, heart, and blood cells.  Previous experimental and clinical work has demonstrated the presence of blood-forming (hematopoietic) stem cells in...

Real People and Adult Stem Cell Therapies (2004)

Here’s a sampling, from late 2004, of real people who have greatly benefited from, or been cured by, adult stem cell therapies. Adult stem cells come from various tissues and organs in the human body (without adverse effects), or from the placenta or umbilical cord blood preserved after the birth of a baby. These are all ethical sources of stem cells. [Keep in mind that unethical, embryo-destructive stem cell research has, as yet, produced not one successful therapy.] Spinal Cord Injuries Laura D. and Susan F. both paralyzed in car accidents, can now walk with the aid of braces or a “walker” frame. Dr. Carlos Lima of Portugal has successfully treated these women and dozens of other patients by transplanting stem cells from their own olfactory mucosa to the site of the spinal cord injury. Their rehabilitation continues, with the goal of being able to walk unassisted. Melissa Holley, whose spinal cord was severed in an auto accident, was treated in Israel with macrophages from her own blood, and has regained  muscle movement and bladder control. Hwang Mi-soon of South Korea now walks with a frame after being paralyzed for 20 years. She received transplanted umbilical cord blood stem cells at the site of her spinal injury. Heart attack damage Dmitri Bonnville and perhaps 100 other patients in the U.S., Germany, Brazil, and France have been treated with their own stem cells to regenerate heart muscle tissue that “died” during a heart attack or injury. The heart’s pumping ability was greatly improved in most cases. Corneal regeneration Michael May (blind 43 years), Jon Newton (blind 30 years), and Shawn Smith (blind 10 years).have...

Gene, stem cell combination rebuilds damaged livers in mice (9/04)

Trial Therapy May Fight Human Genetic Disorders  — A combination of gene therapy and stem cell therapy may offer a new way to correct inherited diseases, says a University of Florida study. In research with mice with damaged livers, the scientists removed liver cells called progenitors that have the ability of stem cells to rebuild damaged organs. These progenitor cells were equipped with a healthy human gene and then placed back in the mice. The progenitor cells than began to rebuild the liver with cells that expressed the healthy human gene.   “The idea is that if we use a patient’s own cells, then we don’t have to look for a donor or worry about medications that may be needed to prevent the body from rejecting the therapy,” Bryon Petersen, an associate professor of pathology, immunology, and laboratory medicine, said in a prepared statement. “We’ve got the ability to basically take cells out of the patient, do our magic and put the corrective gene in, and then put those cells back into the patient. I think it goes back to the concept of self healing self,” Petersen said. [online issue of Hepatology, 9/04; The Human Genome Project has more about gene therapy. University of Florida, news release, September 2004; 28Sept04...

Genuine non-embryonic stem cells found in skin might treat hair loss, wounds (9/04)

Master cells nestled within hair follicles of the skin retain the ability to form new hairs as well as skin, new research reports [3September 04 issue of Cell]. While earlier work had suggested the presence of stem cells in skin, the new study by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators at Rockefeller University in New York provides the first direct evidence that cells extracted from the hair follicles of mice exhibit all of the defining features of true stem cells. The skin stem cells offer potential new methods to reverse baldness and boost wound healing in burn victims and those suffering from other skin injuries, the researchers said. The putative skin stem cells reproduce themselves seemingly indefinitely in the laboratory, the study found. When engrafted onto the backs of hairless mice, the cells also formed stretches of skin, tufts of hair, and sebaceous glands, which secrete an oily substance known as sebum that lubricates skin and hair. “We’ve identified cells within skin that bear all the characteristics of true stem cells–the ability for self renewal and the multipotency required to differentiate into all lineages of epidermis and hair,” said Elaine Fuchs, cell biologist at Rockefeller University and senior author of the study. “The results demonstrate for the first time that individual cells isolated from hair follicles can be cultured in the laboratory and retain a capacity to make multiple cell types when grafted.” The team’s analysis of the versatile skin cells also offers new insights into the underlying genetic signature common to all stem cells, said the researchers. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells whose daughters give rise to the specialized cell...

Stem Cells Reduce Stroke Damage (10/02)

Stem Cells Ethically Derived from Umbilical Cord Blood Cut Scope of Stroke by 40%, research finds — Stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood can help reduce stroke damage, claims a study by scientists at the Medical College of Georgia and the University of South Florida.In research with laboratory animals, the scientists found that when the umbilical cord-derived stem cells were given intravenously along with the drug mannitol, which can penetrate the brain’s protective blood-brain barrier, stroke size was reduced by 40 percent.There was also a significant reduction in resulting stroke-related disability, according to the study [published in the October 2002 issue of Stroke]. “What we found was interesting, phenomenal, really,” study author and neuroscientist Dr. Cesario V. Borlongan said in a prepared statement.“We have two potential routes of delivery, intravenously through the jugular vein or directly transplanting the (stem) cells into the brain,” Borlongan said.Initial studies that compared the two approaches found the intravenous delivery was ineffective until used in combination with mannitol.Another study in the same issue of Stroke found that 10 times or more the number of umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells would be needed to produce similar results if the stem cells were injected without mannitol. Mannitol is a sugar alcohol and diuretic. Its uses include helping chemotherapy drugs reach the brain.[Medical College of Georgia, news release, Sept. 24, 2002; 29Sept02, HealthDayNews; 2002...

Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells May Aid Stroke Recovery (2/01)

Cells taken from umbilical cords after birth may offer a source of material — free of the ethical concerns of fetal tissue — for repairing brains damaged by strokes and other ills.In animal experiments, the cells appear to greatly speed recovery after strokes. They work with a simple infusion into the bloodstream without the need for direct implantation into the brain, Paul R. Sanberg of the University of South Florida reported at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Sanberg and his colleagues removed stem cells from cords, then used retinoic acid and growth hormones to transform them into immature nerve cells. They then injected 3 million of the cells into the bloodstreams of rats that had suffered strokes. In experiments on about 60 animals, those given the cells recovered about 80 percent from their strokes, compared with about 20 percent in untreated rats.How the new cells rewire the damaged parts of the brain is unclear, the researcher said.[18Feb01, Associated Press, San Francisco;  © 2001 Washington Post; Culture of Life Fdn,...

"Waist" product may have medical value: Liposuctioned Fat Holds Adult Stem Cells (10/04)

A plastic surgeon performed liposuction on himself on camera to promote the potential use of adult stem cells that can be harvested in such operations. Dr. Robert Ersek, 66, who conducted the operation with the help of liposuction’s French inventor, said he encouraged patients to save their liposuctioned fat from now on. Ersek’s office throws away tons of liposuctioned fat every year. But he shipped his own to a California company for processing and long-term storage of some of the cells from that fat. ‘We’re trying to make fat do good.’ — Dr. J. Peter Rubin Dr. Yves Gerard Illouz, in town for a plastic surgery seminar, agreed: “This [adult stem cells] will be the future”. He said that in 5 years, adult stem cells derived from tissue, such as fat, and other organs will be successful in fighting disease and injuries. Adult stem cells are different from embryonic stem cells [which are controversial (involve the destruction of fertilized human eggs) and have not yet been used successfully in any medical studies]. Ersek was captured on film by television and newspaper cameras, as well as by a staff member in his Texas operating room. He removed about 1 1/2 pounds of fat from his left abdomen. He said he will leave his right side “as is” for now and be his own before-and-after liposuction ad. After numbing the skin near his navel, he slipped in a hollow tube about a quarter-inch wide and moved it back and forth until it had sucked out about half a pound of fat. Why did he do that? It turns out the type...

Adult Stem Cells Convert to Liver Tissue (6/04)

Bone marrow stem cells, when exposed to damaged liver tissue, can quickly convert into healthy liver cells and help repair the damaged organ [Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center].   In mouse-tissue cultures, scientists found that stem cells, in the presence of cells from damaged liver tissue, developed into liver cells in as little as seven hours.  They also observed that stem cells transplanted into mice with liver injuries helped restore liver function within two to seven days.  The work was published in the 1 June 04 issue of the journal Nature Cell Biology.   Bone marrow stem cells, also known as hematopoietic stem cells, have the ability to differentiate and develop into all other blood and marrow cells.  There has been debate among the scientific community over whether these cells also can differentiate into other tissue types such as the liver, says Saul J. Sharkis, Ph.D., senior author of the study and a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.  Some studies suggest that the bone marrow cells fuse with other types of cells, taking on those cells’ properties.  But in this study, the researchers found, through highly thorough analysis with a microscope and other tests, that the cells did not fuse, suggesting that “microenvironmental” cues from existing liver cells caused them to convert.   “The hematopoietic stem cells were capable of taking on many characteristics of liver cell types, including specific gene and/or protein expression as well as typical function,” Sharkis says.  “These events occurred rapidly after injury exposure and restored liver abnormalities, indicating that the cells converted.”   This type of stem cell technique could...

International Adult Stem Cell 'Retraining' Project Starts in England (5/04)

An exciting research project to utilize the body’s own adult stem cells to regenerate areas of tissue damage is uniting scientists in Birmingham, London and Ontario, Canada. The University of Birmingham is leading a three year study with long term aims of helping stroke, Parkinsons and diabetes patients. £401,772 funding has been granted by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council and the Medical Research Council. Adult stem cell research offers enormous potential for treating a host of diseases for which there are no cures, by replacing damaged cells… How Adult Stem Cells Saved My Life: A Personal View of the Stem Cell Debate:  http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=PV04G02&f=WU04G18&t=e For more information about stem cells, click here. Certain types of adult stem cells seem to have the ability to differentiate into a number of different cell types, given the right conditions.  If this differentiation of adult stem cells can be controlled in the laboratory, these cells may become the basis of therapies for many serious common diseases.  This study sets out to harvest stem cells from brain and pancreas, with the hope of ‘retraining’ them for use in other parts of the body.  Stem cells from these two tissues are being focused on as they share a lineage and have similar characteristics.  Since it is easier to harvest stem cells from the pancreas than the brain, this project will evaluate whether adult stem cell transfer between the organs is a feasible approach for brain repair. Using the body’s own stem cells should eliminate problems of cell rejection, and moves on from controversial embryonic stem cell use.  Trial leader Ann Logan, Professor of Molecular...

Adult Stem Cells Improve Heart Function (7/04)

Adult stem cells taken from bone marrow can improve heart function in patients who have suffered a heart attack, German researchers said. Stem cells are master cells that can develop into specialized cells. Adult stem cells can be obtained from many different body tissues, such as bone marrow, fat tissue, heart muscle, and even baby tooth pulp. They hold the promise of treating a range of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease. For an easy-to-understand explanation of stem cells, click here. Dr Helmut Drexler, of the Medical University of Hannover in Germany, used adult stem cells from bone marrow of heart-attack patients to see if they could improve heart function. “Our results lend support to the concept that … bone-marrow cells can be used to enhance … functional recovery in patients,” he said in a report in The Lancet medical journal. Drexler and his team randomly selected 60 patients who had received treatment following a heart attack, to receive either an injection of the stem cells into the artery supplying the damaged area of the heart or standard therapy. Six months later, the stem cell transfer patients had about a 7 percent improvement in function of the heart, compared to 0.7 percent in the other group. While the results are encouraging, Drexler noted that, as always, larger trials are needed. [London, Reuters; http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20040708/hl_nm/health_stemcells_dc_1, 8Jul04; 10jul04, N.Valko...

Dr. Prentice Discusses Stem Cell Research (7/04)

July 12, 2004 The stem cell issue is a crucial “sanctity of human life issue.  Human embryonic stem cell, (obtained at the cost of sacrificing an early human being – like you and I once were), have thus far proven to be extremely problematic, not yielding any consistent positive  therapeutic results, but yielding some very negative results (ie, in attempts with Parkinson’s disease patients). On the other hand, adult stem cells, cheap, abundantly available, with no rejection reactions if they come from your own body, have already produced significant positive therapeutic results.  However, driven by pressure from the biotecnical industry, and scientists who hold a utilitarian view of life and want access to America’s pool of frozen embryo’s for experimental purposes, the issue has become incredibly politicized.  Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, pluripotent stem cells,  progenitor cells are all terms used to disguise the issue both in the media and in bills before legislatures, in order to obtain a vote favorable to the industry, rather than favorable to the embryo.   As physicians who believe in the sanctity of human life, we need to maintain a clear focus on what means what, and who is saying it!   The following is a very informative article by Dr. David Prentice, Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University, Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics or Indiana University School of Medicine, and a Founding Member of Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics: There are many sources of stem cells, but the two most often discussed are embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells come from...

Obtaining Stem Cells From Umbilical Cord Blood (3/04)

BioE [St. Paul, MN] has developed a processing system, called PrepaCyte-CB, that separates the stem cells from umbilical cord blood.  It is expected to become the first FDA-compliant cell-separation product and first available on the market by early 2005. Blood from the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells, which have the potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Use of umbilical cord stem cells is ethical and does not use or destroy human embryos.  BioE and lead neurologist, Dr. Leslie Weiner, have a research agreement with the Univ of Southern CA, where Weiner is chair in Neurology at the University’s Keck School of Medicine. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 23Mar04; HLA Action News, Spring...

Adult Stem Cells Benefit Heart Patients (4/04)

A team of American and Argentinian researchers has proved that adult stem cells can significantly improve damaged heart tissue. [American Association for Thoracic Surgery in Toronto, 25Apr04] The patients’ own stem cells injected into the damaged areas dramatically improved heart function after surgery. Twenty patients with weak hearts participated in the experiment. Ten patients had their own stem cells injected into the damaged areas of their heart during surgery and ten had surgery alone. The results were conclusive. The stem cell patients, after 6 months, showed significantly more improvement in their hearts than those who had surgery alone. Researcher Prof R. Kormos said the findings “will revolutionize our approach, which is largely palliative, to one that is truly regenerative.” More research is needed but the results are the most hopeful so far. Dr. Amit Patel [Div of Cardiac Surgery, Univ of Pittsburgh School of Medicine]: “What we do know is that stem cell transplantation led to significant improvement in cardiac function in these patients undergoing off-pump bypass surgery. But, further investigation is needed to replicate these results.” This breakthrough follows a long history of successful experimental/therapeutic treatments with adult stem cells (cells taken from the patient’s own body). No evidence has yet to be brought forward that such cures are likely with human embryonic stem cells.[News-Medical.net coverage http://www.news-medical.net/view_article.asp?id=860; TORONTO, 26Apr04; 27Apr04,...

Regeneration of Injured Muscle from Adult Stem Cells (5/2004)

Skeletal muscle has a remarkable capacity to regenerate following exercise or injury and harbors two different types of adult stem cells to accomplish the job: satellite cells and adult stem cells that can be isolated as side population (SP) cells.   A certain group of these stem cells is involved in muscle tissue repair, but is only triggered into the muscle cell development pathway by injury. The question then arises: what molecular factors turn these adult stem cells into muscle cells? Now Michael Rudnicki and colleagues have shown that one gene, Pax7, has a crucial role in this process. In previous studies, Rudnicki’s group demonstrated that Pax7 is required to turn adult stem cells into muscle cells during regeneration. Here, the researchers worked with mouse models and in vitro experiments to investigate whether Pax7 is sufficient to initiate muscle cell formation in injured tissue. They show that stem cells taken from regenerating muscle in mice lacking the Pax7 gene could not become muscle cells, and that by putting Pax7 back into stem cells taken from uninjured muscle, they can generate a population of cells that readily differentiate into muscle cells. When stem cells engineered to express Pax7 proteins were injected into the muscles of mice lacking dystrophin (the protein defective in muscular dystrophy), the cells differentiated, forming dystrophin-expressing muscle cells in the defective muscle. This shows that engineered “donor cells” can differentiate in living tissue and help repair damaged muscle of recipient mice. When the researchers injected Pax7 (using a gene therapy virus) into the damaged muscle of mice lacking Pax7, they observed the production of muscle-forming cells that...

Bone Marrow (Adult) Stem Cells As Effective As Embryonic Stem Cells

RESEARCH SHOWS BONE MARROW CELLS AS EFFECTIVE AS EMBRYONIC — Adult bone marrow cells can fuse with specialized brain cells, possibly bolstering the brain cells or repairing damage, according to research from the Stanford Univ School of Medicine. This finding helps resolve an ongoing debate: Do adult stem cells transform bone marrow cells into other cell types, such as brain, muscle or liver cells, or do they fuse with those cells to form a single entity with two nuclei? David Stevens, MD, exec dir of the Christian Medical Association says that other studies suggest that something in the damaged organ triggers adult stem cells to begin the repair process. “The more important point is that adult/umbilical cord cell transplants work,” Stevens said. [Stanford, CA; http://www.lifenews.com/bio91.html, lifenews.com, 18Oct03]...

Alternate Ethical Source of Stem Cells from Placenta

“As embryonic human stem cells derived from fertilization procedures induce ethical concerns, a third option requires attention. “Embryonic human stem cells used for research in other countries are frequently derived from spontaneous abortion products [i.e. from miscarriages]. “Approximately 10% of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion before the 16th week of gestation; this percentage is reduced to 1 percent after the 16th week of gestation. “Establishment of programs to capture this naturally available embryonic human stem cell product could resolve the shortage and prevent disputes about the source of embryonic human stem cells.” [M. E. Van Hoef , Falls Church, The Wash Post,5Sept01; Van Hoef is an oncologist-hematologist (clinical research & dev’t in blood / marrow transplants, which use cord blood, pediatric or adult human stem cells to restore bone marrow function after aggressive chemotherapy in cancer...