Stem Cell – Definitions / History / Statistics

Stem Cell Research Letter by Scientists (10/04)

October 27, 2004   Senator John F. Kerry John Kerry for President 901 15th Street NW, Suite 700 Washington DC 20005   Dear Senator Kerry,   Recently you have made the promotion of embryonic stem cell research, including the cloning of human embryos for research purposes, into a centerpiece of your campaign.  You have said you will make such research a “top priority” for government, academia and medicine (Los Angeles Times, 10/17/04).  You have even equated support for this research with respect for “science,” and said that science must be freed from “ideology” to produce miracle cures for numerous diseases.   As professionals trained in the life sciences we are alarmed at these statements.   First, your statements misrepresent science.  In itself, science is not a policy or a political program.  Science is a systematic method for developing and testing hypotheses about the physical world.  It does not “promise” miracle cures based on scanty evidence. When scientists make such assertions, they are acting as individuals, out of their own personal faith and hopes, not as the voice of "science".  If such scientists allow their individual faith in the future of embryonic stem cell research to be interpreted as a reliable prediction of the outcome of this research, they are acting irresponsibly.   Second, it is no mere “ideology” to be concerned about the possible misuse of humans in scientific research.  Federal bioethics advisory groups, serving under both Democratic and Republican presidents, have affirmed that the human embryo is a developing form of human life that deserves respect.  Indeed you have said that human life begins at conception, that fertilization...

Potential Donor, Transplant Center, & Clinical Trial Information

Where can people get more information about potential donors and transplant centers?   The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a federally funded nonprofit organization, was created to improve the effectiveness of the search for donors. The NMDP maintains an international registry of volunteers willing to be donors for all sources of blood stem cells used in transplantation: bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood.   The NMDP Web site contains a list of participating transplant centers at http://www.marrow.org/NMDP/transplant_centers.html on the Internet. The list includes descriptions of the centers as well as their transplant experience, survival statistics, research interests, pretransplant costs, and contact information.   Organization: National Marrow Donor Program Address: Suite 500 3001 Broadway Street, NE. Minneapolis, MN 55413–1753 Telephone 612–627–5800 1–800–627–7692 (1–800–MARROW–2) 1–888–999–6743 (Office of Patient Advocacy) E-mail: Available through the Web site Internet Web site: http://www.marrow.org    Where can people get more information about clinical trials of BMT (Bone Marrow Transplants) and PBSCT (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplants)?   Clinical trials that include BMT and PBSCT are a treatment option for some patients. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from NCI’s Cancer Information Service (see below), or from the NCI’s Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials on the Internet....

The Great Stem Cell CoverUp: Research You Never Hear About

It has been repeated so often that it is now a mantra: “Embryonic stem cells offer the most promise for finding cures for degenerative diseases and conditions such as Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury”. But saying something ten thousand times doesn't make it true. Indeed, the embryonic stem cell mantra has yet to be demonstrated scientifically…the actual data published to date in peer-reviewed science journals tell a far different story. While there have certainly been successes in embryonic stem cell experiments in animal studies–many of them hyped to the hilt in mainstream media reports–the numbers pale in comparison with the many research advances being made with adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells, which are already being used in human patients. Based on the published science, there are 72 maladies for which human patients have received some benefit (which is not the same as being "cured") from adult stem cell or umbilical cord blood interventions. Meanwhile, embryonic stem cells have yet to demonstrate any human therapeutic use. This is not to say that embryonic stem cells don't have genuine scientific value. Researchers are excited about the prospect of gaining a more fundamental understanding of developmental biology by experimenting on embryonic stem cells, for example. And embryonic stem cells may well have the capacity to treat human diseases. But to win the current political debate over federal funding of embryo-destructive research, many supporters have made extravagant claims about pending cures.   In their zeal, they forget to mention that embryonic stem cells cannot be used safely in human beings at present because of worries over tissue rejection and their demonstrated...

NIH Resource / Adult Stem Cell Transplants

Stem Cell Information : The official National Institutes of Health resource for stem cell research Turning Blood into Brain: New Studies Suggest Bone Marrow Stem Cells Can Develop into Neurons in Living Animals, November 30, 2000  http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/press_releases/pressrelease_bloodtobrain_113000.htm Transplanted Neural Stem Cells Migrate Throughout the Abnormal Brain, Reduce Disease Symptoms June 07, 1999 http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/press_releases/pressrelease_neural_stem_cells_060799.htm Cultured Neural Stem Cells Reduce Symptoms in Model of Parkinson's Disease  July 20, 1998 http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/press_releases/pressrelease_stemcells_072098.htm Stem Cells and Stem Cell Transplantation – MedLine Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/stemcellsandstemcelltransplantation.html Clinical Trials.gov: Stem Cell Transplantation (NIH) http://clinicaltrials.gov/search/intervention=stem+cell+transplantation&recruiting=true ClinicalTrials.gov: Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (National Institutes of Health) http://clinicaltrials.gov/search/intervention=%22hematopoietic+stem+cell+transplantation%22&recruiting=true NIH Funding Announcements by Type of Research http://stemcells.nih.gov/news/nihopps/nihopps_type.asp Cord Blood Participating Hospitals http://www.marrow.org/cgi-bin/NETWORK/nmdp_cord_blood_hospitals.pl#AL The National Marrow Donor Program maintains a Web page on donating cord blood at http://www.marrow.org/NMDP/cord_blood_bank_list.html     Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation: Questions and Answers   Key Points & Hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cells are immature cells [in the human body] that can mature into blood cells. These stem cells are found in the bone marrow, bloodstream, or umbilical cord blood (see Question 1). * Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT) are procedures that restore stem cells that were destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy (see Questions 2 and 3). * In general, patients are less likely to develop a complication known as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) if the stem cells of the donor and patient are closely matched (see Question 5). * After being treated with high-dose anticancer drugs and/or radiation, the patient receives the harvested stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce...

What Works Now: Successful Stem Cell Treatments (NIH)

From National Institutes of Health website: Have human embryonic stem cells been used successfully to treat any human diseases yet? Scientists have only been able to do experiments with human embryonic stem cells (hESC) since 1998, when a group led by Dr. James Thomson at the University of Wisconsin developed a technique to isolate and grow the cells. Moreover, federal funds to support hESC research have been available since August 9, 2001, when President Bush announced his decision on federal funding for hESC research. Because many academic researchers rely on federal funds to support their laboratories, they are just beginning to learn how to grow and use the cells. Thus, although hESC [may someday] offer potential cures and therapies for many devastating diseases, research using them is still in its early stages. Adult stem cells such as blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow (called hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs) are currently the type of stem cell commonly used to treat human diseases. Doctors have been transferring HSCs in bone marrow transplants for over 40 years. More advanced techniques of collecting, or "harvesting", HSCs are now used in order to treat leukemia, lymphoma and several inherited blood disorders. The clinical potential of adult stem cells has also been demonstrated in the treatment of other human diseases that include diabetes and advanced kidney cancer. [NIH] see http://www.stemcellresearch.org/facts/treatments.htm Adult stem cells (non-embryonic) are stem cells harvested from the human body of an adult or child; they are not harvested by destroying a human embryo, as happens in embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cells, placental cells, and umbilical cord stem cells are non-embryonic stem...

Stem Cell Primer: The Basics

What is a Stem Cell? A stem cell is essentially a “blank” cell, capable of becoming another more differentiated cell type in the body, such as a skin cell, a muscle cell, or a nerve cell. Why are Stem Cells Important? Stem cells can be used to replace or heal damaged tissues and cells in the body. What are the 2 Broad Classes of Stem Cells? Two basic types of stem cells are embryonic type and adult type (adult type includes all types that do not destroy a human embryo). Embryonic (Embryo-Destructive) Type Embryonic Stem Cells Embryonic Germ Cells Adult Type Umbilical Cord Stem Cells Placental Stem Cells Adult Stem Cells (from blood, bone marrow, all body tissue, hair follicles, deciduous (baby) teeth, etc) Where do Embryonic Type Stem Cells Come From? EMBRYOS – Embryonic stem cells are obtained by harvesting living human embryos which are generally 5-7 days old. The removal of embryonic stem cells historically results in the destruction of the human embryo. FETUSES – Another kind of stem cell, called an embryonic germ cell, can be obtained from either miscarriages or aborted human fetuses. [“Fetus” is a Latin word for “offspring” or “young one”.] Where do Adult Type Stem Cells Come From? UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD, PLACENTAS, AMNIOTIC FLUID, WHARTON'S JELLY – Adult type stem cells can be derived from various pregnancy related tissues. ADULT TISSUES – In adults, stem cells are present within various tissues and organ systems. These include the bone marrow, liver, epidermis, retina, skeletal muscle, intestine, brain, dental pulp, hair follicles, olfactory mucosa (nose), and elsewhere. Even fat obtained from liposuction has been shown...

Stem Cell Clarity (Stevens, 7/04)

The following points highlight key findings of scientific studies funded with tens of millions of private and federal dollars revealed about embryonic stem cells since the President’s policy was put in place on August 9, 2001… 1) Human embryonic stem cell lines have proven difficult to develop and maintain.1-42) Pure embryonic stem cell cultures are difficult to obtain. 5, 63) Embryonic stem cells are unstable and mutate in culture. 7, 84) Differentiation protocols for many cell types have not been developed. 95) Differentiated Cell types often act abnormally. 10-126) When embryonic-derived cells have been placed in animals, cancerous tumors have formed. 13, 147) To address the problem of immune rejection, researchers have proposed cloning individual patients to obtain compatible embryonic stem cells. 15-178) Besides the ethical inadmissibility of human cloning, some researchers have questioned whether cloning will truly solve the rejection problem. Cells taken from cloned human beings are not normal. Women’s groups and others have rightly condemned the commercialization of women required to gain the millions of human eggs needed for such cloning. 18, 199) Even if each of these problems were somehow solved, at a cost of over $200,000 per patient, only the very wealthy could afford the procedure. Many physicians and patients also would reject the therapy on moral grounds. 20, 21 Due to these and other hurdles, the earliest that supporters of embryonic stem cell research proponents can possibly hope for clinical applications from embryonic stem cells is 10-15 years away—if ever. As more and more problems with embryonic stem cells are uncovered through research, some scientists are now predicting that we won’t see any...

Stem Cells Made Easy

Many well-meaning people have become very confused and overwhelmed by the muddied media reports about stem cells, unintentional or otherwise. Here is a quick, simplified outline to help clear the air about stem cells: Two Major Types of Human Stem Cells        1. Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs)       Human egg and sperm are combined in the lab to make a fertilized human zygote. This human zygote is then allowed to divide to about the 8-cell stage and then it is destroyed for the stem cells. To destroy human life at any stage has always been considered immoral and unethical.       Not one — not even one — successful human treatment with embryonic stem cells has yet occurred. To the contrary, medical tests using embryonic stem cells have actually had disastrous results. ESC often grow uncontrollably and have produced tumors in people that have caused death or serious damage.         2.  Non-Embryonic Stem Cells       Non-Embryonic Stem Cells do not result in the death of a human being and so are considered a morally and ethically acceptable source of stem cells.         There are several sources for Non-Embryonic Stem Cells:             a. Adult Stem Cells (ASCs)                b. Newborn Placental (afterbirth) Stem Cells                c. Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Adult Stem Cells (ASCs) can be obtained from any person’s blood, fat (adipose) tissue, bone marrow, muscle tissue — even from baby tooth pulp and recently from heart (cardiac) muscle tissue. Stem cells can be coaxed in the lab into many other types of cells, including nerve cells. Adult stem cells are being used now, and have already been used in dozens of research studies. Literally hundreds...