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In humans, within 10 hours, this fertilized cell (zygote) divides into two identical cells. This process will be repeated millions of times throughout the lifetime of this unique human being.

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Archive PDF Print E-mail

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Scientists in stem-cell cover-up
Deliberately exaggerate embryonic advances, ignore adult
[ May 25, 2004 WorldNetDaily; 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc. WorldNetDaily is pleased to have a content-sharing agreement with Insight magazine, By Michael Fumento]
Researchers are engaged in a "stem-cell war," a deliberate effort to downplay the proven value of adult stem cells to attract more attention to the potential of embryonic stem cells.
It's a war being fought partly over ethics, but mostly over money. Stem-cell research constitutes one of the most exciting areas in medical science. It promises to prevent, ameliorate and cure diseases for which
there are now few if any treatments. Far easier is listing what stem cells don't have the potential to do, but here are a few of the wonders in progress:
More than 30 anticancer uses for stem cells have been tested on humans, with many already in routine therapeutical use.
By some accounts, the area in which stem-cell applications are moving fastest is autoimmune disease, in which the body's own protective system turns on itself. Diseases for which stem cells currently are being tested on humans include diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Evans syndrome, rheumatic disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [Lou Gehrig's disease], among many others.
Just last February, two different human-autopsy studies demonstrated that stem cells transfused into the marrow work their way into the brain, where they can repair neurons and other vital cells. Other studies have shown that when injected into animals with severed spinal cords, stem cells rush to the injury site effecting repairs. "I think the stem cells may act as a repair squad," says the leader of one of the two studies, Helen Blau of the Stanford University Brain Research Institute. "They travel through the bloodstream, respond to stress, and contribute to brain cells. They clearly repair damage in muscle and other tissues."

At a conference in late 2002, French researchers reported that during the last 14 years they had performed 69 stem-cell transplants with an 85 percent disease-free survival rate. Since improving their procedure in 1992, all 30 of the last transplants have been successful.
Stem cells have been injected into damaged hearts and become functional muscle. This destroyed the dogma that heart muscle cannot be repaired, just as stem-cell research also wrecked the firmly held belief that brain tissue cannot regenerate.
Unless you've spent the last several years stranded on a deserted island, you've probably heard of at least some of these medical miracles. But here's what you may have missed. While the overwhelming majority of favorable media coverage of stem cells concerns those pulled from human embryos, called embryonic stem cells, or ESCs, not a single treatment listed above has used that kind of cell.
In fact, while activists such as spinally injured actor Christopher Reeve rage that but for Bush administration and congressional restrictions on ESC funding he might be walking in a few years, there are no approved
treatments -- and have been no human trials -- involving embryonic stem cells. Each of the above therapies and experiments has involved cells that require no use of embryos.
These are called "adult stem cells," or ASCs, though they also refer to cells found in nonadult tissue such as umbilical cords, placentas and amniotic fluid. Like ESCs, they are precursors that eventually will become a
mature, specialized cell. ASCs actually have been used therapeutically to treat leukemia and other diseases since the 1980s. A bone-marrow transplant is a transplant of stem cells from marrow.
Yet when an ESC so much as hiccups, it makes international news, while tremendous breakthroughs with ASCs are as a rule ignored. Welcome to what's been called "stem-cell wars," a deliberate effort to downplay the proven value of ASCs to attract more attention to the potential of ESCs. It is a war that is being fought partly over ethics, but mostly over money.
Okay, so if ASCs have such a huge advantage over ESCs then why did anybody
begin researching ESCs anyway, to a point where labs and researchers all
over the world now are working with them?
Blame it on the dogma -- scientific dogma that is. It's long been
acknowledged that ESCs carry a boatload of physiological and ethical
problems. For example, ESCs implanted into animals have a nasty tendency to
cause malignant tumors. That's a major hurdle to overcome, as is the fact
that the body rejects them just as it rejects donated organs.
Yet it was always believed that ESCs had one huge advantage over their ASC
counterparts -- that while an ASC could become or "differentiate" into only
a few types of mature tissue with those tissues dictated by the source of
that ASC, the ESCs could become any type of tissue in the entire body. In
medical terminology this is known as "plasticity."
But this has never been more than theory, and lately that theory has begun
crumbling under the weight of empirical findings. Or, in other words, it's
had a run-in with reality.
"We do not yet know enough about adult stem cells or ESCs to make dogmatic
statements of either," declared Dr. Darwin Prockop, director of the Gene
Therapy Center at Tulane University, in a letter that appeared in Science.
"There's no law of physics or such that I know of that says that [ASCs] are
inherently more limited than embryonic stem cells," Prockop told Citizen.
We do know that ESCs give rise to all three germ layers [as in
"germination"] that become all the forms of human tissue. But this doesn't
necessarily mean that they can be converted into each and every one of those
Moreover, Catherine Verfaillie and her colleagues at the University of
Minnesota's Stem Cell Institute recently have found stem cells in human
marrow that appear to transform into all three germ layers.
"I think Verfaillie's work is most exciting and translatable into the
clinical arena," says Dr. David Hess, a neurologist at the Medical College
of Georgia in Augusta. "They seem to give rise to every cell in the body.
She seems to have a subpopulation with basically all the benefits of ESCs
and none of the drawbacks."
Verfaillie calls the cells "multipotent adult progenitor cells," and has
isolated them from mice, rats and people. They already have been transformed
into cells of blood, the gut, liver, lung, brain and other organs. Just a
few months ago, researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New
Jersey published a paper explaining that in a mere five hours they had been
able to convert bone-marrow cells into neurons both in petri dishes and in
rats. Under the old dogma, that was simply impossible.
More importantly, "We found that they express genes typical of all three
embryonic germ layers," the researchers told Citizen. "In aggregate, our
study and various others do support the idea that one [ASC] can give rise to
all types of tissue."
And the good news keeps pouring in. One problem with Verfaillie's cells is
that, in part because they come from marrow, they are difficult to extract.
That problem won't matter down the road when culturing practices are
perfected, say researchers, but currently it hinders efforts to keep labs
Enter Elizer Huberman and his colleagues at the Argonne National Laboratory
outside Chicago. They wanted to find highly plastic ASCs in blood, as they
would be far easier to extract and to store. Just how plastic they might be
remained to be seen and wasn't even a prime concern. But when the Argonne
scientists reported their results in the March 2003 issue of the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, it showed that their stem cells had in
fact differentiated into mature cells of all three lineages that ESCs can
Even if it somehow turned out that none of the ASCs really can produce all
the cells of the body, perhaps we don't need the ability of cells that are
"one size fits all." That's because in recent years researchers have found
that they can tease ASCs into many more types of mature tissue than was
previously thought possible.
Moreover, researchers now seem to be finding ASCs essentially wherever they
look -- including blood, bone marrow, skin, brains, spinal cords, dental
pulp, muscles, blood vessels, corneas, retinas, livers, pancreases, fat,
hair follicles, placentas, umbilical cords and amniotic fluid. You don't
need "one size fits all" if you can provide all sizes.
At the same time, ESCs have become even more suspect ethically in the eyes
of many people. The original ethical concern was that many see the
destruction of human offspring, no matter how young, as an abortion. Some
prominent abortion opponents believe human life only begins upon
implantation in the uterine wall; therefore destruction of embryos would not
count as such. Nonetheless, even to some of these people the thought of
ripping apart the byproduct of human conception for the sake of science
invokes images of Nazi eugenicist Josef Mengele or of Mary Shelley's Dr.
This more recent worry has nothing to do with destroying life but rather
with the creation of it -- cloned human life. While growing embryos into
blastocysts [see note at end of article] often is referred to as
"therapeutic cloning" or "research cloning" to distinguish it from the
process of creating a human being, the two processes follow parallel tracks.
If that blastocyst is implanted into the womb and it survives, voila! --
nine months later you have a clone just like something out of Star Wars
Episode II. No doubt most ESC researchers haven't the least desire to take
the next step, but that's not the issue. What counts is that they are
developing a technology that others can build upon to refine the process of
creating human clones.
Thus, ESCs have in their favor nothing more than a decaying theory that they
may have greater plasticity. Going against them are the ethical concerns and
that they are years behind ASCs in commercial applications.
But there's a huge ESC industry out there, with countless labs packed with
innumerable scientists desperately seeking research funds. Private investors
avoid them because they don't want to wait perhaps 10 years for commercial
products that very well may not materialize and because they're spooked by
the ethical concerns.
That leaves essentially only Uncle Sam's piggy bank, primarily grants from
the National Institutes of Health, to keep these labs open. This, in brief,
explains the "stem-cells wars," the perceived overwhelming need grossly to
exaggerate petri-dish advances with ESCs, while life-saving new applications
of ASCs are downplayed or ignored.
Thus the announcement in 2001 that ESCs could be made into blood cells
received almost 500 "hits" on the Nexis media database even though published
medical-journal reports of ASCs differentiating into blood cells go back at
least to 1971. It's possible to read lengthy articles on the promise of stem
cells that mention nothing but ESCs. The influential pro-life figure and
former U.S. senator Connie Mack, R-Fla., even questioned whether ASCs exist,
which is on par with questioning the existence of Starbucks.
It's probably not a coincidence that Mack has been a paid lobbyist for ESCs,
but most reporters have no financial stake in the issue and it is a complex
one. They take their cues from the professional medical journals. And,
unfortunately, these are among the leaders in the war against ASCs. The
world's most prestigious science journal, Nature, published two in-vitro
studies in March 2002 widely interpreted to mean either that ASCs are
grossly inferior to what had earlier been believed or even that they're
outright worthless.
The Nature writers indicated their studies showed that ASCs probably were
not differentiating and multiplying at all; rather that it appeared the cell
nuclei were merely fusing and the resulting fusion gave the impression of a
new, differentiated cell forming. The media gobbled it up.
Agence-Presse France headlined: "'Breakthrough' in Adult Stem Cells Is Hype,
Studies Warn." The Australian Associated Press declared, "New Research Tips
Debate on Stem Cells." The Washington Post's subhead flatly declared: "Adult
Cells Found Less Useful than Embryonic Ones." It was damning ... and false.
Stanford's Helen Blau countered with a big "So what?" In a Nature
commentary, she noted that "Cell fusion has long been known to achieve
effective reprogramming of cells" -- so long in fact that her own laboratory
was doing it 20 years earlier. Thus, far from showing that ASC research is
"hype" or whatever term the particular newspaper or newswire chose to apply,
it turns out that cell fusion both complements and encourages the
differentiation of adult stem cells -- something that's already proved
valuable and is clearly very promising.
The idea that differentiation wasn't happening at all was simply bizarre in
light of myriad studies and therapeutic applications showing otherwise,
including one that appeared in the journal Blood shortly thereafter. Showing
that bone-marrow stem cells can be converted into kidney cells, it pointedly
concluded: "The process does not involve cell fusion."
"We found no evidence of nuclear material from two cells fusing into one
cell," one of the coauthors emphasized to me.
In an interview last spring, Prockop told me, "It may well be that fusion is
part of the healing process. But clearly we can take mesenchymal cells and
differentiate them into various tissues because it's into bone or fat and
it's been done over 20 years."
Indeed, he specifically explored the fusion issue in a study released in the
Sept. 30, 2003, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,
concluding "Most of the [mesenchymal cells] differentiated without evidence
of cell fusion, but up to one-quarter underwent cell fusion with the
epithelial cells. A few also underwent nuclear fusion."
Yet another Blood study released last September concluded, "Analysis of DNA
content indicates that donor-derived endothelial [stem] cells are not the
products of cell fusion." A Lancet study in early 2003 looked at cheek cells
from five living women who had received bone-marrow transplants from their
brothers several years earlier. They found cells containing the male Y
chromosome, a sign that donor marrow stem cells had differentiated into
cheek cells. Moreover, the group found almost no evidence of fusion among
the cells in the cheek. Of the 9,700 cells that were examined in the study,
only two showed signs of possible fusion. And yet in late October 2003,
Nature rushed into publication yet another letter claiming that there was no
evidence that stem cells from marrow do anything but fuse. Of all these
studies, guess which was the only one to get media attention -- and lots of
Shortly after Nature's first effort to establish that the wheel doesn't
exist, its chief competitor, Science, attempted to show that the Earth is
flat after all. First it ran a letter in which authors from the Baylor
College of Medicine claimed that they earnestly had tried but failed to find
bone-marrow cells that had differentiated into neurons in the brain.
Shortly thereafter it ran a paper from Stanford University scientists, led
by Irving Weissman, claiming to show that a type of stem cell from marrow
could replenish that type of marrow, but that it appeared worthless for
creating other tissues. The typical media reaction was UPI's "Promise of
Adult Stem Cells Put in Doubt." Weissman eschewed the usual cautionary
scientific terminology such as "it appears" or "evidence indicates," or "our
particular study has found." Instead he smugly told UPI: "They [the cells]
don't make brain; they don't make heart muscle or any of these things."
According to Blau, it was surprising to see this published so rapidly and in
such a prestigious and influential publication as Science. The Baylor study,
she notes, failed to detect not only neurons but also something far more
readily detectable called microglial cells. And forget that "At least 20
reports over the past 15 years have shown that bone-marrow transplantation
results in readily detectable replacement of a large proportion of
microglial cells in the brain." Some of these reports have even appeared in
Says Blau, "If they couldn't see those, how could they possibly see
neurons?" It would be like announcing that you had failed to detect a tiny
virus under your microscope when you also hadn't been able to see a gnat
that accidentally got trapped between the slides. Either your microscope is
faulty or you don't know how to use it.
"As to Weissman's paper, where you look and how you look determines what you
see, and he doesn't define where he's looking," she says. "Our own
experiments have shown there can be a thousand-fold frequency of stem-cell
incorporation depending on where you look."
Because he didn't say where he looked, "It would be quite difficult to
replicate his experiments," she notes. "You could replicate ours, but he did
not. The other false assumption he made was to look at a fraction of marrow,
the hematopoietic part, and he looked in absence of any damage to the body;
yet these are damage-repair cells." In other words, one shouldn't think it
remarkable that no ambulance shows up when there's no need for an ambulance.
Weissman is also a notorious opponent of adult stem-cell research insofar as
he has made millions of dollars with numerous companies that work with ESCs,
according to an exposé in the Washington Monthly. "Was the publication of
these two papers a political act designed to harm the image of ASCs in the
image of the public?" Insight asked Blau.
"That's been a question in many people's minds," she says. "Why these
negative findings should have been published in such a prominent way does
suggest a political agenda."
In a commentary in the Journal of Cell Science in February 2003, British
researchers asked in the very title: "Plastic Adult Stem Cells: Will They
Graduate From the School of Hard Knocks?" In a good-humored, indeed
sometimes humorous, piece the angst nonetheless came through.
"Despite such irrefutable evidence of what is possible, a veritable chorus
of detractors of adult stem-cell plasticity has emerged, some doubting its
very existence, motivated perhaps by more than a little self-interest."
While certain issues still need resolving, the researchers said, "slamming"
the "whole field because not everything is crystal clear is not good
Even scientists who strongly favor ESC funding readily admit that the issue
is highly politicized, with ASCs getting the short end of the stick from
research publications, the popular media and the scientific community. Blau,
Prockop, Black and Verfaillie are among them.
"Most scientists never want a door closed, they want all doors open," says
Hess. "And anybody who disagrees with that stance is seen as trying to hold
up medical progress."
Another ASC researcher who strongly supports funding for ESCs is Patricia
Zuk, whose lab has shown that America's most plentiful natural resource --
body fat -- can provide a limitless source for stem cells capable of
differentiating into bone, muscle, cartilage and fat that can be used to
fill in scars and wrinkles.
"Certainly it's politicized," she says. But, she adds, "I think a lot of
embryonic stem-cell people are right in trying to protect their jobs."
Understandable, yes. But is it right? Forget for the moment the questionable
morality of a mass campaign to fool the American public. Zuk admits that the
stem-cell wars are "very worrisome" in that they could harm her own efforts
to get grant money.
Says Hess, "Certainly one of my motivations is I don't want money from adult
stem-cell research being pushed into embryonic, though it's already starting
to happen."
Activists such as Christopher Reeve have it backward when they say that
restrictions on ESC research funding will prevent him from walking again.
ASC studies already have enabled quadriplegic animals to walk again, and
human trials should be right around the corner. But the chance of ESCs
helping people such as Reeve in the next 10 years is practically nil. Reeve
should know about this: Many of the amazing ASC studies, including Ira
Black's, have been funded by something called the Christopher Reeve
Paralysis Foundation.
Moreover, to the extent that breakthroughs with ASCs are confused with ESC
technology, it harms public support for ASC research. ESC propagandists are
hoping for a seesaw effect; that by exaggerating ESC research and
denigrating ASC research they'll push up their side of the board. But, to
the extent they succeed, they're only delaying the stream of miracles coming
from adult stem cells.
Michael Fumento is author of "BioEvolution: How Biotechnology Is Changing
Our World," which has just been published by Encounter Books of San
Note: When fertilization initially takes place, whether within a fallopian
tube [in vivo] or in a petri dish [in vitro] it forms a single-cell embryo
called a zygote. The zygote divides progressively into a multicell embryo.
After about five days, the embryo contains many cells with a cystic cavity
within its center and is called a "blastocyst." If this blastocyst implants
into the uterus and continues to develop, it becomes a fetus. But this is
also the stage at which the individual cells become viable for use in ESC
experimentation. "Blastocyst" is not to be confused with "blastocyte," which
is simply another term for an ESC.

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 31
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-289-2500
Washington, May 17, 2002: Great strides this week in transforming adult cells and in treating spinal cord injury. Read on for the fascinating details! Adult Cell Transformation: Various Applications Scientists at the University of Oslo and at a biotech company in the U.S. called Nucleotech LLC have discovered a way to turn adult skin cells (fibroblasts) into cells that behave like immune system cells (such as T-cells). They first “punched holes” in the cells using chemicals, and then incubated the cells in a T-cell extract solution. In response, the cells stopped expressing genes that fibroblasts normally express, and started expressing genes usually only active in immune cells (such as genes for the immune system proteins IL-2, IL-7, CD3, CD4, and RANTES). “They start acting like T-cells,” Dr. Philippe Collas (the leader of the team) said. “That’s the beauty of our system—we are not working with embryos or dealing with stem cells at all. You get around all these issues.” Making T-cells could have immediate applications in treating cancer, because cancer patients often have low T-cell counts; if T-cells can be made from other cells, larger numbers of them could be produced to treat these patients. The T-cells might even be able to be ‘programmed’ to respond to or attack the cancerous cells in their body. “[There could] be a one-day procedure, in principal,” research colleague James Robl said. “The patient would come in and give a skin biopsy to the lab to reprogram and the day after you could put the cells back into the patient.” The scientists were also able to get the fibroblasts to turn into neuron-like cells. After exposure to “neuronal precursor extract,” the fibroblasts started expressing a neuronal protein, and began to extend neuron-like outgrowths. Although the skin cells weren’t completely transformed into T-cells or neurons, research can be continued, to see how complete and long-lasting a transformation can be achieved. This discovery might also be helpful for research on making pancreatic cells to treat diabetes, or on making neurons to treat Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or spinal cord injuries. The methods utilized by these scientists do not use cloning or ES cells, and would not need women’s eggs. Says Dr. Collas, “The message here is we are developing an entirely new approach to tissue replacement therapy that avoids many of the issues” [related to such methods]. Sources: Hakelien, A., et al, “Reprogramming fibroblasts to express T-cell functions using cell extracts,” Nature Biotechnology, May 2002, Vol. 20, No. 5; Pro-Life Infonet 5/1/02 (#2) #2700 [quotes from Reuters, April 30, 2002]; Pollack, Andrew, “Method May Transform Cells Without Cloning,” New York Times, May 1, 2002. Spinal Cord Injury Five in every 100,000 people in the U.S. suffer from spinal cord injuries. Damaged nerves in the spinal cord usually form a dense scar, making it difficult for nerves to regenerate and cross it. These scars contain certain molecules, including ones called chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs). CSPGs inhibit neural growth both in vivo (in live animals and human beings) and in vitro (in lab-grown cells). A bacterial enzyme, chondroitinase ABC (chABC), is able to remove certain parts of the CSPG molecules. In doing this, the inhibitory activity of CSPG can be decreased. A research team made up of scientists from various universities in England recently treated rats that had spinal cord injuries. They delivered the enzyme chABC to the rats’ spinal injuries. They found that in response, a protein known to help regenerate neurons began to be produced in the injured neurons. Also, the treatment promoted the regeneration of neurons in the rats, above and below the spinal injuries. In addition, there was functional recovery of some movement: the disabled rats recovered a regular gait. Says Elizabeth Bradbury, one of the scientists, “It shows the cells above the lesion[s] are talking to those below.” Such research shows that, to treat spinal cord injury, scientists need not kill living human beings to obtain their stem cells, as in human embryonic stem cell research or cloning. Legitimate forms of research abound and are making great strides towards treating neuropathies. Sources: Bradbury, E.J., et al, “Chondroitinase ABC promotes functional recovery after spinal cord injury,” Nature 416, 636-640 (2002); Pearson, H., “Spinal cord recovery hurdle cleared: Bacterial enzyme chews through nerve growth barrier,” Nature “Science Update,” 11 April 2002 ( Culture of Life Foundation, 1413 K St., NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005,

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 25
Washington, February 1, 2002
Adult Stem Cells in General
New Adult Stem Cell Discovered Which Could Show Great Promise
Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, a specialist in stem cells and leader of a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, has told colleagues that she has isolated special stem cells from the bone marrow of adults, which have the potential to differentiate into many different types of body tissues.  Dr. Verfaillie calls these cells “multipotent adult progenitor cells” (MAPCs).  She has isolated them from the bone marrow of mice, rats and humans in a series of stages.  They are grown in the laboratory, and cells that do not carry certain surface markers, or do not grow under certain conditions, are gradually eliminated, leaving a population rich in MAPCs.  Verfaillie says that her lab has reliably isolated the cells from about 70% of the approximately 100 human volunteers who donated marrow samples.

Long-term growth: The cells seem to grow indefinitely in culture (like proponents of embryonic stem cells [ESCs] say those cells can do); she says that some of the cell lines have been growing for almost two years and have kept their characteristics, with no signs of aging.

Plasticity: Verfaillie has shown in her experiments that the descendants of a single cell can turn into muscle, cartilage, bone, liver, and various types of neurons and brain cells.  Also, she has carried out experiments where she placed single MAPCs from humans and mice into very early embryonic mice.  Analyses of mice born after the experiment showed that a single MAPC can contribute to all the body’s tissues.

No tumors: These cells do not seem to form tumors when injected into adults (unlike ESCs, which, derived from the killing of embryonic humans, have shown this extremely disturbing characteristic).

It still needs to be shown whether the various types of cells formed by MAPCs can be used as truly functioning cells.  Likewise, it must be verified whether these MAPCs are naturally-occurring cells in the body that have been isolated, or whether the isolating process somehow creates or reprograms the cells.  Either way, the cells might still prove useful for future clinical work.  In theory, the cells could be directed to form different types of tissue with different stimuli, and then clinicians could use the tissue in patients who need it.  In addition, hard data is needed regarding these cells, in peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals.  This is necessary so that other scientists can critique the work and try to repeat her experiments themselves.  Verfaillie’s group has not published much of their data yet, and they say that this is because they are filing for patents before making the full results public.  A patent application has been seen by editors at one journal (New Scientist), who say that the application shows that the team has carried out extensive experiments.  Some of Verfaillie’s findings will be included in a forthcoming article about the ability of MAPCs to form blood vessels, to be published in the February 1, 2002 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation (  If Verfaillie’s work is repeatable and scientifically valid, this will be a great boon to the field of adult stem cell research, and should be proof positive that lethal experiments on embryonic humans need not be performed.

Sources: and and and and “Scientists Herald a Versatile Adult Cell, ” by Nicholas Wade with Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, Jan. 25, 2002.
Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005,


Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 21
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, December 21, 2001: Great new work this week, including new treatments to cure sickle cell anemia, and breakthroughs on the differentiation of stem cells within the intestine. All proof that human embryonic stem cell research need not be pursued.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Researchers Correct Sickle Cell Disease in Mice Using Gene Therapy
Sickle cell anemia is a disease affecting about 1 in 500 African Americans and 1 in 1,000 Hispanic Americans today. It is characterized by the presence of an abnormal hemoglobin molecule within red blood cells. The malformation of this molecule causes the shape of the red blood cells themselves to change, into a form resembling a sickle. The cells also become rigid and adhesive, and thereby cause blockages and organ damage. Other symptoms of the disease include excruciating pain, anemia, and strokes. Currently, the only cure for sickle cell anemia is bone marrow transplantation, done on children who can find a matched sibling bone marrow donor. However, only 18% of children can find such a match. For the rest of the children with the disease, and for adults with it, treatments include blood transfusions and use of drugs to lessen pain and other symptoms. A recent study headed by Philippe Leboulch (assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is an exciting step towards a possible new treatment. His research team first selected certain mice to use which had been genetically-engineered to have “sickle cell disease” (SCD), to be similar to humans who have sickle cell anemia. The scientists removed some of the defective bone marrow from some of the mice. Then they combined the defective bone marrow with a “viral vector” (an inactivated virus whose purpose is to carry corrective genes into the defective cells; the one in this study was similar to HIV, but altered so that it wouldn’t replicate). This viral vector had been engineered to contain a gene to correct the sickle cell disease (an “anti-sickling gene”). They put the “corrected” bone marrow into other SCD mice whose bone marrow had been depleted via irradiation. They achieved good results: the mice with transplanted, corrected bone marrow showed expression of the anti-sickling gene 10 months after the bone marrow transplantations, in up to 99% of their circulating red blood cells. There was also a dramatic decrease in the proportion of irreversibly sickled cells, as well as a correction of splenomegaly (enlarged spleen; can be seen with sickle cell disease). The scientists hope to pursue this gene therapy procedure further, noting the need to ensure safety of the viral vector in humans as well as to find a safe way to destroy part or all of the defective bone marrow in human patients. Exciting milestones such as this should convince scientists that human embryonic stem cell research need not be pursued in order to cure or treat disease.
Sources: (1) Pawliuk, et al; “Correction of Sickle Cell Disease in Transgenic Mouse Models by Gene Therapy;” Science; 14 December 2001; Vol. 294; pp. 2368-2371; and (2) National Institutes of Health News Release, Dec. 13, 2001 ( or National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Communications Office: 301-496-4236); and (3) Pro-Life Infonet 12/14/01, #2585 [cites Associated Press Dec. 13, 2001]).

Colon Cancer, Intestinal Disease, and Stem Cells in General
Gene Found to Play Role in Stem Cell Differentiation in the Intestine
Huda Zoghbi and her colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston discovered that a gene called Math1 has a significant role in the development of different kinds of cells from stem cells in the intestinal epithelium. Previous work by Zoghbi and her colleagues had found that Math1 has a role in the differentiation of neuronal cells, including sensory cells in the inner ear. During that work, they detected Math1 expression in the intestine, and so decided to study its intestinal expression further. They genetically engineered mice “in which the coding region of the Math1 gene was replaced by an enzyme that would stain the cells expressing the gene in developing embryos.” It was a surprise to them to not detect expression of the gene in the nervous system of the gut, but rather in the intestinal epithelium. Specifically, they found that Math1 is involved in the differentiation of goblet, enteroendocrine, and Paneth cells from stem cells. All three of these cells’ main functions include the secretion of various important substances such as mucous or microbe-fighting proteins. Further studies of mutants with no Math1 gene showed that these secretory cell types were missing in the mutants. “This told us that Math1 was important for basic stem cell differentiation…now we know that Math1 likely plays a key role in the decision whether to become a secretory or an absorptive cell,” said Zoghbi. She believes that Math1 can now help them to build a framework of understanding, regarding what happens to turn a stem cell in the gut into the various types of cells seen there, and that such an understanding could have considerable clinical importance. “One could imagine a basic understanding of [these cells] leading to new treatments for such diseases as irritable bowel syndrome and other abnormalities of gut motility. Also,…understanding [their regulatory pathways] could yield insights into the mechanisms of colon cancers,” she says. She also mentions that understanding the regulatory control of intestinal stem cells could lead to treatments to regenerate damaged intestinal tissue, and that discoveries about intestinal stem cells could be applicable to many other stem cells in other parts of an organism. Such fascinating and promising research with mouse stem cells should be evidence that no work needs to be done in the field of human embryonic stem cell research, which necessitates the destruction of living human beings.
Sources: (1) Yang, et al; “Requirement of Math1 for Secretory Cell Lineage Commitment in the Mouse Intestine;” Science; 7 December 2001; Vol. 294; pp. 2155-2158 and (2) Research News from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), at and (3)
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Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 19
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, November 16, 2001: We present some great new findings this week, highlighting astounding uses and successes with human adult stem cells. Read on, for the amazing details! Heart Disease Human Adult Bone Marrow Stem Cells Used to Repair Heart Damage
Japanese scientists at the Yamaguchi University School of Medicine in Ube, Japan reported some exciting adult stem cell research findings on Nov. 12 to the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2001 conference in Anaheim, California. They had previously done animal experiments with adult stem cells which worked well, and just revealed their new results from an ongoing clinical trial where they treated five patients with heart disease. The researchers obtained bone marrow from the patients’ own hip bones. From this marrow, they “prepared a mixture rich in mononuclear cells, which includes immature cells such as stem cells and the precursor cells of the endothelial cells that line the inner walls of blood vessels.” Then they injected the patients’ hearts with several injections of the mixture. One month after the injections, three of the five patients showed definite improvement in blood flow to the sections of their hearts which had received the injections. It was also found that severe chest pain they had suffered before the injections had disappeared. Although two of the patients didn’t show signs of changes in their blood flow, it was shown that none of the patients had developed detrimental symptoms from the injections. “We found this new treatment to be safe, and we believe it could be an alternative treatment for heart patients who cannot be helped by coronary artery bypass surgery or balloon angioplasty,” said Kimikazu Hamano, M.D., a co-author of the study. This is yet another successful and promising use of human adult stem cells, which should be proof that destructive and immoral human embryonic stem cell research need not be pursued in the quest for treatment and cures for disease. Source:
Parkinson’s Disease Scientists Are Able to Convert Bone Marrow Stem Cells To Brain Cells in Laboratory Scientists at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have found that they can convert adult human bone marrow cells into brain cells in the laboratory. The research team’s leader, Dr. Lorraine Iacovitti, reported her team’s findings on Nov. 11, 2001 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. She says that “The goal [of the work] is to find stem cells that we can differentiate into dopamine neurons to replace those lost in Parkinson’s Disease.” The researchers were able to develop a cocktail of growth factors and nutrients which they could feed to the human bone marrow stem cells. Over time, they found that a particular mixture was able to convert 100% of the bone marrow stem cells into neurons within one hour. “It flew in the face of everything I knew from developmental biology,” says Dr. Iacovitti. The converted cells both look like neurons and contain neuronal proteins. They even found that the cells can convert into different subclasses of neurons. The laboratory is still working on converting them into dopamine neurons, which they think could help Parkinson’s patients. In addition, they are working on the task of keeping the cells differentiated by working with the media in which the cells are incubated. Dr. Iacovitti notes that “The major advantage of using adult human bone marrow stem cells is that each person can be his own donor, meaning they can have an autologous graft of cells without rejection.” Because the cells come from the patient’s own body, there is no risk that the graft will be rejected by their immune system, as could happen if the cells came from another patient or from embryonic cells from another human being. Such encouraging findings should be convincing evidence that researchers need not engage in human embryonic stem cell research, which kills human beings in embryonic form (or utilizes cells from embryos that have been killed). Source: Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 18
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, November 9, 2001: Amazing breakthroughs this week for both stroke victims and Parkinson’s disease patients. None of the research involves the destruction of human life, as human embryonic stem cell research does. Read on for the fascinating details!
Cells From Human Umbilical Cord Blood Help Rats Recover From Stroke Quickly
A new study was performed by researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and the University of South Florida, Tampa in which rats that were induced to have symptoms of stroke were given injections of umbilical cord fractions (which were rich in non-embryonic stem cells). The cells migrated to the sites of brain injury, and improved the motor and sensory abilities of the rats, even when they were given to the rats a week after the stroke had occurred. Rats with strokes that were given the cord blood cells within 24 hours after the stroke showed even greater improvement. All of the rats that received the cord blood cells recovered from the strokes quicker than control rats that had received no treatment. Later examination of the rats’ brains showed that only a small percentage of the cord blood cells in the brain expressed proteins similar to ones that would be expressed by early neural cells. Therefore, the scientists believe that it is likely “that the cells somehow encourage the brain’s own recovery system to work better at repairing the areas damaged by stroke.” In another recent study by the same institutions, Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos from USF showed that stem cells from human umbilical cords can be reprogrammed in the laboratory to form immature neural cells. He says that the newer study with rat models “extends our earlier laboratory findings.” Currently, the main treatment for stroke is injection of Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA), a drug which needs to be administered within 3 hours of the stroke to be able to work well. With this new study, the cord blood cells could offer a longer window of opportunity for treating a stroke (days, instead of hours). In addition, it is a relatively non-invasive procedure to have a simple IV administration of cells. Such exciting and positive news from the realm of non-embryonic stem cell research underscores the fact that forays need not be made into embryonic stem cell research, which destroys living embryonic human beings.
Parkinson’s Disease
Molecule Natural to the Body May Stop Plaque Buildup in Parkinson's Disease
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego recently found that a naturally-occurring molecule in the body, called beta-synuclein, could have a major effect on the development of plaque deposits (which are accumulations of protein tangles called Lewy bodies) usually found in the brain of Parkinson’s disease patients. Specifically, beta-synuclein has the ability to inhibit the activity of another naturally-occurring molecule called alpha-synuclein, which has been linked to the formation of the plaques. In addition, the scientists noted that an imbalance of the ratio of alpha- to beta-synucleins could affect whether plaques form or not in the brain. In test tube studies, when the scientists added beta-synuclein to a tube containing Lewy body protein tangles formed by alpha-synuclein, the proteins untangled. In mouse studies, the research team developed some mice that overexpressed alpha-synuclein and some mice that overexpressed beta-synuclein. The mice that overexpressed alpha-synuclein developed Lewy body aggregates, and the mice that overexpressed beta-synuclein did not. Discovery of the ability of this molecule to so profoundly affect development of brain plaques is good news indeed for Parkinson’s patients, and should encourage more research on beta-synuclein. Such breakthroughs should convince doctors and scientists that there are plenty of moral paths to pursue towards making progress on curing and treating diseases. Immoral human embryonic stem cell research need not be pursued, especially seeing that it is not licit to pursue evil for a perceived good end.
Sources: and
Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 16
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, October 26, 2001: There should be no need to even consider the utilitarian proposition of killing embryonic human beings to obtain their stem cells, or to perform research on stem cells from humans that have been killed previously. As this week’s bulletin shows, there are plenty of morally legitimate avenues of research which benefit all sorts of diseases, and which show great promise. Cancer and Other Diseases Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research: Novel Drug Delivery Systems Can Improve Drug Effectiveness Against Cancer and Other Diseases Scientists from Rutgers University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey have developed some fascinating new ways of delivering drugs, using polymer (plastic) technology. The first delivery system is called a “smart” drug carrier. It involves the linkage of a polymer to both a drug and another molecule called the “ligand” molecule. The ligand molecule has a specificity for certain receptor molecules on the cell that the drug will be targeting (i.e., it won’t attach to any other molecules except those receptor molecules). The beauty of this system is that the drug is directed specifically to the cells (for example, cancer cells) that it is meant to treat. In addition, the researchers have found that the system facilitates the entrance of the drug directly into the cells. The second delivery system that they’ve developed is considered to be a tiny “medicine cabinet” that can be injected directly under the skin. It involves a polymer gel drug carrier which contains one or several drugs. It is injected right under the skin to form a tiny lump. It is meant to release the drug(s) in a controlled fashion, over several hours, days, or months. It could be a benefit to patients who have a hard time remembering to take their daily medicine (like those with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps), or for treating diseases which respond better to drugs being released over the course of time. Such improved methods of drug delivery bode well for scientific research that focuses on the use of drugs to combat disease. This type of research shows much more promise than research on human embryonic stem cells, which destroys human beings. Sources: and Diabetes Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research: Special Protein Causes Mouse Pancreatic Cells to Grow Larger and Produce More Insulin: Possible Help For Diabetics Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center have discovered that a specific protein called Akt1 plays a significant role in increasing the size and numbers of a type of pancreatic cell called a β-cell (beta-cell). They worked with a mouse engineered to produce extra Akt1, and found that the Akt1 caused more pancreatic β-cells to grow, that the cells were bigger, and that they produced more insulin than normal β-cells. The scientists also tried to induce diabetes in the mice by killing their β-cells, and weren’t successful in doing so, presumably because of the efficient activity of Akt1. Recently, surgeons have been successful in re-establishing the production of insulin in the pancreas of diabetic patients by transplanting “pancreatic islets” (clumps of pancreatic cells, which include pancreatic β-cells) into the patients. Perhaps Akt1 can be used in the future to increase the number of pancreatic cells available for transplant into patients, as well as increase their size and insulin production. Encouraging news such as this should preclude any thought of research involving killing embryonic human beings in order to use their cells for research on diabetes. Source: and Tuttle, Robyn et al, “Regulation of pancreatic β-cell growth and survival by the serine/threonine protein kinas Akt1/PKBα”; Nature Medicine, Oct. 2001; Vol. 7, No. 10, pp. 1133-1137. Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 15
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, October 19, 2001: Exciting developments this week with a new source of stem cells and possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. All are morally legitimate forms of scientific research (as opposed to embryonic stem cell research, which involves the death of human beings at the embryonic stage of life).
Treating Birth Defects
Adult Stem Cell Research:
Stem Cells From Amniotic Fluid Are Another Alternative to ESCR
Scientists at the Children’s Hospital in Boston told an American College of Surgeons Meeting on Oct. 10 that they were able to find “early stage embryonic cells” in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. They believe that these cells could be used to repair birth defects. They found that when grown in a special way in culture, the cells quickly grew into connective tissue. One of the researchers says that just 2 ml of amniotic fluid can provide up to 20,000 cells, 80% of which are viable. These researchers had reported in 1997 that they were able to remove cells from lambs in the womb of their mothers and then use the cells to repair tumors in newborn lambs. Such successes cause them to believe that the human amniotic fluid cells could possibly be used to treat birth defects in newborn human babies (approximately 1 in 5000 infants is born with a “body wall defect” that could be corrected with such a tissue graft). Such an accessible way to obtain useful stem cells should rule out any imagined need for destructive human embryonic stem cell research.
Sources: New Scientist, Oct. 11, 2001; and Pro-Life Infonet 10/14/01, #2543
Alzheimer’s Disease
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Research Suggests High Cholesterol and Alzheimer's Disease Are Linked: Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Could Help Treat Alzheimer’s
Several studies recently have shown links between high cholesterol and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It has been found that high blood cholesterol levels aid in the formation of amyloid-beta, which is known to be one of the components of the characteristic plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. About 10 years ago, Dr. Larry Sparks from the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, where he was a forensic pathologist, performed autopsies on people who had died unexpectedly. He found that about 70% of the people who had died from heart disease also had amyloid plaques in their brains. Two epidemiological studies that appeared last year studied whether statins, a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs taken by many people, could influence the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Both of the studies had similar results: that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease was about 70% lower in people taking statins than in the control groups. Other studies have found that rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet develop plaques in their brains, and that reducing the cholesterol in their diet or giving them cholesterol-lowering drugs decreased the number of plaques developing in the brain. Such studies encourage the notion that perhaps cholesterol-lowering drugs could be a useful and effective way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Because statins have sometimes been associated with liver and muscle damage as side effects, they might not be ideal candidates for long-term use in Alzheimer’s patients. However, to analyze them as one possibility for treatment, studies are now being done to test their effect on cognitive function in humans (as well as on their effect on cardiovascular health). In addition, future studies could analyze the effect of other cholesterol-lowering drugs on plaque formation in humans as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s. Lowering cholesterol could in the end possibly help both the heart and the mind. There is no need to work on human embryonic stem cells to treat Alzheimer’s, with such intriguing possibilities in the forefront of science.
Source: (Need subscription)
Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 14
For Immediate Release
Please Contact Tara Seyfer - 202-638-5500
Washington, October 12, 2001: Great research findings this week in the research fields of diabetes, neural injury/disease, and cancer. All show that there are many truly effective moral routes of research today, and that human embryonic stem cell research should not even be considered. Read on for the intriguing scientific news!
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Herbal Oils Found to Affect Insulin Sensitivity and Lower Blood Pressure In Diabetic Rats
Researchers at Georgetown University experimented with the effects of various combinations of edible oils on rats that had been bred to have the characteristics of type 2 diabetes (and thus needed insulin doses to keep their body glucose levels stable). The oils used were from various herbs and plants: fenugreek, cumin, pumpkin seed, and oregano. The scientists discovered that the oils increased the sensitivity of the rats to the insulin they’d been receiving; thus, they needed smaller insulin doses to achieve stable glucose levels. The oils also were found to decrease the rats’ blood pressure; when they stopped feeding the rats with the oils, the rats’ blood pressure returned to their previous levels. Harry Preuss, M.D., the lead investigator, said, “Our results suggest that combinations of various edible oils improve glucose metabolism in these diabetic rats, and may be important in the treatment of different forms of human diabetes as well as the high blood pressure that often accompanies it.” It is amazing that even natural plant oils can help treat diabetes. It should be proof that research on human embryonic stem cells need not be even contemplated.
Sources: (Oct. 10, 2001) and
Alzheimer’s Disease, Brain/Spinal Cord Injury
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Bioengineers Use New Microcapsule Protein-Release System to Enhance Neural Cell Transplantation in Rats
Bioengineer researchers at Cornell University have created a unique system for transplanting cells into brains, together with a protein called NGF (nerve growth factor), which enhances nerve cell growth. They created polymer microcapsules which they can fill with the NGF protein. They tried injecting these microcapsules into rat brains together with rat fetal brain cells, to see if they could successfully get the brain cells to attach and grow, and if the NGF would stay localized in the injection area (important because they didn’t want the NGF to spread and cause cell growth in other areas). They found that the NGF did remain in the local area, and that the brain cells produced an enzyme called ChAT (which is a sign that the transplanted cells were starting to grow and function). Future research might test the use and release of other proteins or drugs using the microcapsules. Although these researchers used the microcapsules with rat fetal brain cells, once the procedure is tried in humans, human fetal brain cells or human embryonic stem cells should not be used. A moral route would be to potentially use adult neural stem cells along with the microcapsules, or the microcapsules alone, to promote neuronal growth.
Sources: (Oct. 11, 2001) and
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Gene and Enzyme Pinpointed Which May Cause Spread of Colon Cancer
Scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the John Hopkins University Oncology Center recently discovered that a gene called PRL-3 is involved in the spread (“metastasis”) of colon cancers to the liver. They used a technique called SAGE (serial analysis of gene expression) which had been developed several years ago by the Johns Hopkins team. SAGE helped them to analyze the gene expression levels in normal colon tissue, benign colon tumor tissue, beginning colon tumors, and tumors that had metastasized to the liver. With the metastasized cells, they had to first go through the painstaking process of separating the metastasized tumor cells from all the other surrounding cells, to make sure they were just looking at gene expression in those specific cells. They found that many genes were turned on specifically after metastasis occurred, but that only one was constantly turned on at higher levels after the metastasis: PRL-3. This provides evidence that there’s a specific connection between this enzyme and the metastasis of tumorous colon cells to the liver. PRL-3 is known as a “tyrosine phosphatase” enzyme, meaning that it “controls the activity of other proteins by removing a phosphatase from them” (Source 2, below). Cancer researchers at several institutions are already very excited about this, as there is still relatively little known about the molecular basis for the process of metastasis in cancer. It is thought that the enzyme could potentially be used as a target for drugs, or could provide a molecular marker that could help doctors analyze the aggressiveness of tumors (Source 3, below). Future research will be on the exact role of the gene and its enzyme, and if it promotes metastasis in other cancers. Completely moral research such as this precludes any imagined need for human embryonic stem cell research to help cure cancer.
Sources: (1) (Oct. 11, 2001); (2); (3); (4); and (5) (Need subscription for Science magazine full access).
Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Bulletin Number 12
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, September 28, 2001: Exciting new discoveries and treatments this week involving cartilage repair in knees and a gene possibly involved in diabetes! All further evidence that there is no need to perform immoral human embryonic stem cell research in the search for either treatments or cures.
Cartilage Repair
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
New Treatment for Damaged Cartilage in Knees Using Patients’ Own Adult Cells
Doctors at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Middlesex, England have found a successful new technique for repairing cartilage, specifically in the knees. Cartilage is known by doctors to be particularly difficult to repair and heal, so this discovery was particularly welcome. The researchers in England found that their new procedure was successful in more than 80% of the patients involved in a study they’ve performed. The procedure involves removing healthy cartilage cells from the patient, culturing them in some of the patient’s own blood serum (which contains unique growth agents), allowing the cells to grow for 3-4 weeks, and then placing the cells back into the patient’s damaged knee. One great aspect of this discovery is that because the cells are from the patient’s own body, they will not be rejected by an immune response, unlike the possibility of this happening with human embryonic stem cells. This is yet another exciting new treatment in medicine that does not rely upon the immoral usage of human embryonic stem cells for research.
Sources: and (BBC News online, 23 September)
Known Gene Discovered to Be Involved in Liver Glucose Production
Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and at Harvard Medical School have discovered a gene that is involved in the generation of glucose in the liver, a finding that could lead to breakthroughs in diabetes research. The gene, “PGC-1”, was already known by scientists to regulate the production of a cell component called mitochondria (involved in the production of energy in muscle cells) within cells. However, it was unknown that PGC-1 has a role in the liver. Apparently, they found that in rats and mice that were subjected to fasting conditions, PGC-1 expression in the liver increased. It did the same in rodents that were genetically-bred to have various types of diabetes. This indicates that PGC-1 is involved in the creation of glucose by the liver. Normally, the liver provides a regulated stream of glucose in response to the body’s needs. In Type 2 diabetes, however, glucose production can be abnormally high. Future studies and potential therapies could use the new discovery to learn how to switch the PGC-1 gene on and off, to treat diabetes. Such therapies and research are even more evidence that human embryonic stem cells need not be studied in research for diabetes or any other disease.
Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005,

Adult Stem Cell Research Weekly Highlights Number 11
Culture of Life Foundation
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, September 21, 2001: Great scientific research findings this week with regard to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, which are further evidence that human embryonic stem cells need not be a part of scientific study. Diabetes Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research: New Drug Can Prevent Diabetes in People at Risk A new drug marketed by the UK pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is showing promise in preventing the development of diabetes in people at high risk for developing this disease. Dr. Mark Walker of Newcastle University reported at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Conference in Glasgow that the drug (called rosiglitazone or Avandia) had proved effective in preventing the disease in patients with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). These patients have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, which puts them at risk for developing diabetes. Exercise and a proper diet can also help these patients decrease their risk for developing diabetes, but those patients who are elderly or disabled may not be able to effect these lifestyle changes as easily. This drug could prove particularly helpful for them. IGT contributes to cardiovascular disease, and diabetes itself is linked to many other conditions such as kidney failure, strokes, heart disease, blindness, and nerve damage, so rosiglitazone could be a benefit in helping to prevent the onset of these diabetes-related diseases as well. The great potential of such drugs shows that embryonic stem cells do not need to be used in the search for cures and therapies for diabetes. Source: Drugs Can Delay Kidney Failure In Diabetics A couple of new drugs used in the treatment of diabetes have been found to be able to delay the onset of kidney failure in diabetics for about two years. These drugs, irbesartan (also known as Avapro) and lorsarten, were studied in various clinical trials and when compared with a placebo drug, reduced the risk of kidney failure by 20-28%. In one study of patients with Type 2 diabetes, only 5-10% of the patients who received the drug irbesartan showed signs of kidney damage, while 15% of the patients who received a placebo (i.e., no active drug) did develop signs of kidney damage. Suzanne Lucas, the Director of Care at Diabetes UK, said, “This is excellent news for a group of patients whose diabetes puts them at risk of serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and blindness.” Also, a spokesperson for the National Kidney Research Fund (UK) said that the studies were “tremendously important in providing hope that the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant can be delayed or prevented in patients with diabetes.” Such great research findings should be convincing evidence that there is no need to experiment on and destroy human embryos to obtain their stem cells. Sources: and Alzheimer’s Disease Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research: New Electronic Device Can Detect Alzheimer's by Reading Brain Activity A new device that was developed by Thuris Corporation in CA with funding from the Office of Naval Research for reading submarine sonar signals has the capability to be a screening device for Alzheimer’s disease. The device, NeuroGraphTM, utilizes a cap with electrodes to read the brain’s activity and then analyze and compare it to the brain activity of a sample of healthy people. Thuris Corp. (a company that markets technology for diagnosis and analysis of brain conditions) tested the device on more than 160 subjects in initial clinical tests and found that it was able to determine whether brains showed signs of Alzheimer’s disease with 100% accuracy. It is hoped that the device will be a cheaper and more reliable way to diagnose Alzheimer’s than current methods, which rely on a battery of neurological and psychiatric tests, and are only about 90% accurate. In addition, NeuroGraph could be used to diagnose other patients with brain disorders, and to test the efficacy of new drugs on brain activity. Early detection could lead to new advances in prevention and cures, without need for use of human embryonic stem cells. Source: and
Chronic Granulomatous Disease Adult Stem Cell Research: A three-year-old boy has been cured of a fatal disease by the use of stem cells extracted from his sister's placenta. Tom Stretch suffered from chronic granulomatous disease, an inherited defect of the white blood cells which would probably have led to his death in his 20s. No suitable bone marrow donor could be found, so doctors at Newcastle-upon-Tyne general hospital in England took stem cells from the placenta of his sister Hanna, who was free from the condition, after she was born last November and transplanted them into Tom. Tom's parents were due to take him home from the hospital September 18. This news provides yet more evidence of the potential of stem cells derived in an ethical fashion, in contrast to the destructive extraction of stem cells from embryos and so-called therapeutic cloning. Source: (Daily Telegraph, 18 September) and Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005,

Adult Stem Cell Research Weekly Highlights Number 10
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research / 202-638-5500
Washington, September 14, 2001: In the wake of the terrible tragedies this week, we see with even greater clarity the limitless worth of every human life. Every person’s life is truly unique, sacred, and inviolable, and to take an innocent life for any reason is an evil act. Continuing moral paths of scientific research show us that at no point should one kill another human being, no matter how small, even for the purposes of curing another. This means specifically, embryonic and fetal human beings. Likewise, it is not morally licit to use their cells if they have been already killed. Progress with adult stem cells and with research involving no stem cells from any source continues to point the way toward cures that are both morally acceptable and effective.
This week two breakthroughs were announced, against diabetes and spinal cord and brain injury, and no embryonic or fetal stem cells were used in either.
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
New Hope for Diabetes Patients: Molecular Switch Discovered For Regulation Of Glucose
Researchers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and the Harvard Medical School have found a long-sought molecular switch which regulates the production of glucose. The finding bodes well for sufferers of diabetes, since it will greatly help in designing new drugs to target the protein involved. The protein is called PGC-1, and it is normally active in liver cells, and plays a role in upregulating the production of glucose in the body. Normally, it works with the protein insulin to keep blood sugar at normal levels. In diabetics, insulin can be lacking or ineffective, causing serious problems with blood sugar levels. The key protein PGC-1 was previously found to become more active in the muscles and fat of mice that were exposed to cold temperatures. This caused the scientists to wonder if it played a role in the production of glucose, so they inserted the gene for PGC-1 into mice using a harmless viral vector (virus which doesn’t cause disease, which has been designed to carry the desired gene into the animal’s body), and the gene indeed caused the mice to become hyperglycemic (excess of sugar in the blood). One of the scientists involved called this a “real eureka moment.” The scientists believe that this new finding could help in the treatment of diabetes, by allowing researchers to design drugs to turn down glucose production in diabetics by targeting this protein. This is yet another finding in the research of diabetes which shows that there is no need to resort to the use of human embryonic or fetal cells in the treatment of this disease.
Sources: Sept. 13, 2001 issue of Nature and and (9/12/01 News Release).
Spinal Cord and Brain Injury/Disease
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Neuron and Microchip Combination Could Help Treat and Understand Spinal Cord and Brain Injury/Disease
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich have designed one of the first conducting “nerve chips”, which is a combination of live neurons and silicon. They utilized snail neurons and tiny silicon pegs (which help separate the neurons) on a chip, and applied electrical impulses to the chip. The impulses passed from one neuron to another, and back to the chip to form a live circuit. Although true “neurocomputers” are a long way off, this is a step towards being able to understand brain circuitry better, and to possibly build biosensors (for use in testing pharmaceutical drugs on nerve cells) or neuroprosthetic devices that could help treat spinal cord injury or brain diseases. For example, a “biochip” could be used to “bridge a damaged section of the spinal cord” (see Source). Such amazing developments preclude any imagined need for utilitarian research on human embryonic stem cells or fetal cells.
Culture of Life Foundation, 815 15th St., NW Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005,

Adult Stem Cell Research Weekly Highlights Number 9 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research, 202-638-5500 Washington, September 7, 2001: There are many exciting findings this week in the realm of adult stem cells and non-embryonic cell research. They include the discovery of a more precise identification marker for adult stem cells, effective ways of treating heart attacks and cancer, and a possible new use for tooth cells. Read on and stay tuned! Applicable to Many Diseases/Injuries Adult Stem Cell Research: Scientists Identify First "Universal" Stem Cell Marker; Could Revolutionize Stem Cell Identification Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis have discovered what they believe could be utilized as a “universal stem cell marker,” a protein or gene that can distinguish stem cells from other cells in the body. Up until now, scientists have been struggling to find a reliable way to identify stem cells, which can sometimes be difficult to separate from other bodily cells. Current methods and markers used are not fully reliable, and sometimes identify cells which are not really stem cells. The Memphis scientists believe they have found a marker that could be absolutely specific for stem cells. It is a gene called ABCG2/Bcrp1, and their work found that the gene was expressed in several different types of stem cells (including bone marrow and skeletal muscle cells), but wasn’t found on most mature cells. This is great news, especially in the realm of adult stem cells, because one of the difficulties posed in obtaining numerous adult stem cells from bodily tissue is being able to separate out such cells in an accurate manner from the surrounding mature cells. This finding should aid scientists greatly in being able to separate greater numbers of adult stem cells with which to perform their experiments and which could be used for clinical therapies. Such a discovery is yet another reason why researchers need not resort to embryonic stem cell research, with all of its utilitarian ramifications against the human person. Sources: and September 2001 issue of Nature Medicine.
Heart Attacks Adult Stem Cell Research: Adult Stem Cell Therapy Used To Repair Damage From Heart Attacks In a major advance against heart disease, a man’s heart was repaired by his own bone marrow adult stem cells recently in Dusseldorf, Germany. Four days after the patient had suffered a serious heart attack (in which he had lost a quarter of his heart muscle), the operating team removed bone marrow stem cells from his pelvis (a large source of bone marrow) and injected them into the man’s coronary arteries. Prof. B. Strauer, the doctor who performed the procedure, said that ten weeks after the injection, “the size of the damage has reduced by nearly a third and the capacity of the heart itself has clearly improved.” The cells had migrated to the damaged areas of the heart and had turned into beating heart cells. Prof. Strauer claims that, “Stem cell therapy could be more successful than all other previous treatments put together. Even patients with the most seriously damaged hearts can be treated with their own stem cells instead of waiting and hoping on a transplant.” He has treated six other patients (aged between 38 and 67) with their own stem cells since March, and after a short time they exhibited improvement too. Such findings show that doctors can pursue both effective and moral clinical methods for treating patients, as opposed to resorting to the immoral usage of embryonic stem cells to treat patients. Sources: Cleaver, Hannah and David Derbyshire; “[Adult] Stem cell therapy repairs a heart”; Daily Telegraph; 8/25/01; and
Cancer Adult Stem Cell Research: Umbilical Cord Cells Being Used Effectively to Treat Leukemia Umbilical cord cells show increased promise of being an effective treatment for leukemia. Normally, leukemia patients must rely on receiving bone marrow transplants from donors, and the transplant must be a close match or the patient will develop serious immunological problems. Closely-related donors, such as siblings, have the best chance of being a good match, but many times they don’t match perfectly and the patient ends up being put on a waiting list for receiving a transplant from an unrelated matched donor. Umbilical cord cell transplants now offer another viable option. Dr. Mary Laughlin, director of a transplant program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, along with her colleagues at 5 transplant centers, has conducted a study of 68 patients with leukemia or other blood disorders. Most of the patients received transplants of umbilical cord cells from unrelated donors. About 90 % of the patients grew new, healthy blood cells from the “mismatched” cord blood cells. Also, only 20 % of the patients developed severe immunity problems (which is a good statistic compared with the 55% of patients who develop such problems after receiving perfectly matched bone marrow). It is thought that because the umbilical cord cells are immature immunologically, they adapt better than mature bone marrow cells to the patient’s body, and thus don’t cause as many immunological problems. Dr. Laughlin says that, “Now even patients who can’t find perfect matches from bone marrow donors might have hope from umbilical cord cell transplants.” Umbilical cord cells are in abundance, are immunologically flexible, and can be used as a truly ethical form of therapy. Source: Hesman, Tina; “Blood Bank Seeks Role in Stem Cell Research”; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Aug. 29, 2001
Spinal Cord Injury/Parkinson’s Disease Adult Cell Research: Dental Pulp Cells Could Help Treat Spinal Cord Injury and Parkinson's Disease Scientists at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden are conducting studies on dental pulp cells, the cells inside teeth, which they hope will lead to possible therapies for spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s patients. They are closely observing the process of “innervation” (the growth and development of nerves) involved with these cells in order to understand the process better. They have also conducted experiments with the cells. When they cultured the dental pulp cells with neurons (“in vitro”; in an environment outside the living body), they found that the dental pulp cells promoted survival and growth of the neurons. When they grafted dental pulp cells into the spinal cord of rats (“in vivo”; within the living body), they found that the pulp cells promoted neuron survival in the spinal cord. Dr. Christopher Nosrat, one of the researchers, says that “Conceivably, it one day may be possible to extract a tooth, grow dental pulp cells, and implant those cells into a patient suffering from a neuro-degenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease.” Such amazing possibilities, using one’s own bodily cells (and thus minimizing immune rejection), should preclude any researcher from even considering working with embryonic stem cells. Sources: and (Nosrat, et al; “Dental Pulp Cells Produce Neurotrophic Factors, Interact with Trigeminal Neurons in vitro, and Rescue Motoneurons after Spinal Cord Injury”; Developmental Biology; online now at link above and to be published offline in October 1, 2001 edition)
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Culture of Life Foundation
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Washington, D.C. 20005
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Press Release
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research, 202-638-5500
Adult Stem Cell Research Weekly Highlights Number 7 Washington, August 24, 2001: Promising new findings this week in the treatment of spinal cord injury, heart attacks, and skin disorders. All without the need of a single embryonic stem cell! Spinal Cord Injury Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research: Promising New Treatment For Partial Spinal Cord Injury Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel are experimenting with a new therapy intended for patients with partial spinal cord injury. With partial spinal cord injury, the several days immediately following the injury are crucial, because during this time, there is usually further neural damage that occurs in a wave that spreads from the injury site, and can be even more destructive than the initial damage. The goal of the researchers is to find a treatment that will effectively stop this post-injury degeneration. In their recent studies on rats with partial spinal cord injury, they injected the rats post-injury with specific proteins which they had derived from the central nervous system (and which were selected to be able to boost the rats’ immune system). The treated rats showed significant recovery of movement, and their spinal cords contained nerve fibers that appeared substantially healthier than those of nontreated rats (which suggests that the proteins halted further neural degeneration). These results are very encouraging, and counteract (with hard data) the hype from pro-embryonic stem (ES) cell research organizations that ES cells are needed for healing of spinal cord injury. This non-ES therapy is only one of several we’ve reported on in the last few weeks which treat neural injury and disease in a completely moral manner. Sources: and (8/17/01 report) Heart Attacks Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research: Heart Cells Divide, Enlarge, and Live Longer With Special Enzyme Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found a way to increase heart cell division, increase heart cell size, and make heart cells live longer. This is great news for people prone to heart attacks or other heart ailments. The researchers genetically engineered their laboratory mice to produce a specific enzyme called TERT (Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase) in their heart muscles. This enzyme is normally only produced in very young mice, and is involved in the process of chromosome duplication during cell division. The engineered mice continued to produce the enzyme even after they grew older. At first, the mice produced many more heart cells than normal mice. Several weeks later, cell division ceased and the cells grew larger (hypertrophy). In addition, the cells appeared to be more resistant to cell death than normal cells. Usually, the condition of hypertrophy confers a weakness to the heart. With these mice, however, their hearts did not have impaired functioning. One of the scientists in the group, Dr. Michael Schneider, said that the scientists involved believe that adding TERT to an adult heart could offer protection against the type of cell death experienced during a heart attack. In addition, TERT could possibly be added to cells that have been grafted onto an injured heart. This could probably aid in cell growth and protection from cell death. It is just one more example of the exciting research being done without using embryonic stem cells. Source: (8/22/01 report) and Oh, et al, “Telomerase reverse transcriptase promotes cardiac muscle cell proliferation, hypertrophy, and survival”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online August 21, 2001 ( [Need subscription]. Skin Disorder Adult Stem Cell Research: Adult Stem Cells Successful in Treating Rare Skin Disorder A team of doctors at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently performed the first known adult stem cell transplant to treat a rare skin disorder called scleromyxedema. The disorder is characterized by waxy, stiff, thickened skin. In the Houston patient, it had progressed so far that the skin on his face had a “cobblestone appearance,” and he could not close his eyelids completely or eat. The doctors first collected stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow, and then purposely destroyed his immune system with chemotherapy. They then transplanted his stem cells back into his system in order to allow the cells to reconstruct his immune system. Three months after the transplant, the patient’s face does not have the cobblestone appearance anymore, and he can now close his eyes and open his mouth. This is another example of highly encouraging results from adult stem cells in clinical work on human patients. Sources: Prolife Infonet 8/20/01, #2509; Reuters Health, Aug. 17, 2001; also Feasel, et al, “Complete Remission of Scleromyxedema Following Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation”, Archives of Dermatology; August 2001, Vol. 137, No. 8, pp. 1071-1072.
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Press Release
Adult Stem Cell Research Weekly Highlights Number 8
CONTACT: Tara Seyfer, Director of Research
Washington, August 31, 2001: The scientific research findings this week involve brain and spinal cord injury or disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. All three of these are diseases that some claim need research done on them involving embryonic stem (ES) cell research. We show here that ES cell research is absolutely unnecessary, due to the current explosion in other, morally licit research on the same diseases. In addition, we provide you with all the research sources which show you the hard data. Check it out for yourself!
Brain/Spinal Cord Injury and Disease
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Injection of Brain Growth Factor Can Stimulate Generation of New Brain Cells
Researchers at Emory University have found that after injection of a brain growth factor, several regions of an adult rat brain can generate new neurons. The scientists injected the growth factor BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor) into the brains of adult rats for approximately two weeks and then examined the brains for the presence of new neurons. They found new cells in several areas of the brain which are involved in many vital cognitive functions. Previous to this study, some of these areas of the brain had been thought unable to produce new cells after reaching adulthood. One of the researchers said that “(Our data) suggests to us that the adult forebrain has a more profound capacity to produce new neurons than previously has been recognized.” These exciting findings could lead to an effective therapy using such growth factors to replace diseased or injured neurons in specific areas of the brain. Such therapy would not necessitate any research using embryonic stem cells for treatment of brain or spinal cord injury/disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Special Mice Reveal New Clues About Alzheimer's
In a recent issue of the journal Science, two separate studies by scientists in different parts of the world have been able to shed new light on Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is known to involve two different types of abnormalities in the brain: (1) the presence of protein “plaques”, or aggregates of the protein amyloid-beta, in the brain, and (2) “tangles” of a protein called tau. Until now, scientists were not sure of how, or even if, the two types of pathologies were related in the Alzheimer’s patient. One of the problems faced was that mouse models of the disease available did not have both of the pathologies present in their brains. Now, at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, Dr. Michael Hutton has created a mouse model which does exhibit both amyloid-beta plaques and tau tangles, which is more similar to how the disease is exhibited in humans. By studying these mice, the researchers were able to determine that the amyloid-beta plaques somehow stimulate the brain to produce even more tau tangles. The second study to confirm this was in Switzerland, where a research team injected amyloid-beta into the brains of mice that express tau tangles, and discovered that even more tau tangles formed. The bottom line for both of these studies was that future therapies for Alzheimer’s disease could possibly focus on the elimination of amyloid-beta plaques, as a method of preventing the formation of more tau tangles. The new “double-mutant” mice should be helpful in allowing scientists to better understand the disease and to develop additional therapies for patients, without need of embryonic stem cells.
Sources: Gewolb, Josh; “Mice Yield New Alzheimer’s Clues”; Science; 23 August 2001, and at and Tauists and baptists United--Well Almost! at: (Need subscription).
Non-ES/Fetal Cell Research:
Reversal of Obesity- and Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance with Salicylates or Targeted Disruption of Ikkß
Researchers at Harvard and at UC San Diego have found that what most of us know as a common household medicine, aspirin, could be used effectively in very high doses as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. They studied the effects of high concentrations of aspirin administered subcutaneously (under the skin) to diabetic rats and found that the rats showed improved processing of glucose and insulin. Their results were similar with cells grown in the laboratory. Thus their findings both in vivo (in live animals) and in vitro (in lab-grown cells) were encouraging. In addition, they found that a protein known as IKK-beta is particularly involved in the processing of insulin in this form of diabetes, and that drugs targeting this protein could be useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Both treatments do not necessitate research involving embryonic stem cells.
Source: Yuan, et al; “Reversal of Obesity- and Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance with Salicylates or Targeted Disruption of Ikkß”; Science; 31 August 2001; Vol. 293; pp. 1673-1677; also (Need subscription)
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