Stem Cell - Archive

December – October 2011: Stem Cell Research

   FIND PAST HOMEPAGE TOPICS UNDER "CURRENT HEADLINES" IN THE LEFT MENU… 

 

Dolly Cloning Scientist Says Abandon Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Ethical Stem Cell Research Shows Most Promise for Patients

Geron Company Halts First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Trial (Commentary) / All the News that’s Fit to Forget: Why You’re Not Hearing Much About Embryonic Stem Cells These Days / How Big a Blow was Geron’s Bombshell That it is Bailing on Embryonic Stem Cell Research?   BIG.

Commentary: Ethical Stem Cells May Help Patients With Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Peyton Manning Has Adult Stem Cell Procedure to Treat Neck / Why Do Peyton Manning & Others Leave the USA to Procure Adult Stem Cell Treatments?

Adult Stem Cells Tested to Treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

Obama Admin OKs More Human Embryo-Destroying Stem Cell Lines & Funding, Ignores Adult Stem Cells

IPS Cells May Hold Treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia

More Misleading Headlines on Supposed Embryonic Advance

NIH Revitalization Act & Human Embryo Use

Scientists Appeal to Stop Obama's Embryo-Destroying Stem Cell Funding

Direct Conversion Challenges Embryo-Destroying Stem Cell Research

Adult Stem Cell Treatment May Help Unborn Avoid Premature Birth / ALTERNATE VIEW: If Amniotic Sac is Infected, Stem Cell Patch May be a Bad Idea

Missouri House Defeats Pro-Life Limits on Embryo-Destructive Stem Cell Research…

Scientist Who Cloned Dolly Says Abandon Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Ian Wilmut, the scientist who achieved international notoriety for cloning the sheep Dolly, is now urging his fellow scientists and researchers to abandon embryonic stem cell research.

His comments at a conference follow on the major news that Geron, a cloning company the Obama administration funded to undertake the first human clinical trials involving embryonic-like stem cells, abruptly canceled the trials and got out of the embryonic stem cell research business.

Wilmut spoke to researchers at a late November event in California and said that embryonic stem cells are not likely going to show promise because they lead to the development of tumors after injected into animals in studies and that scientists should focus their energies on non-embryonic stem cell research. Wilmut is particularly impressed by direct programming, a process that takes adult stem cells and reverts them to an embryonic-like state without purposefully creating and destroying human embryos.

“I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been pursued more actively,” said Wilmut, according to a report in the North County Times.

Baptist Press noticed the newspaper article on the speech and said it “paraphrased him as saying direct reprogramming would provide the benefits of embryonic stem cell research without the risks. The government, he added, likely won’t spend money on embryonic research if a safer method is available.”

BP also talked with LifeNews blogger and former Indiana State University biology professor David Prentice about the speech, and Prentice said Wilmut wasn’t making his argument on ethical grounds but mere feasibility.

“iPS cells are ethically OK, but because they act like an embryonic stem cell, frankly are still not safe,” Prentice said. “Wilmut is saying there is an even better way that gets around the ethical problems but also bypasses much of the safety issues.”

“This is Dolly’s daddy, the guy who cloned Dolly the sheep,” Prentice said. “He’s turned away from cloning, he’s turned away from embryonic stem cells, and he’s pointing towards reprogrammed cells.”

Wilmut first began backing away from embryonic stem cell research and cloning a few years ago and said in 2009 that animal cells “are extremely unlikely to be suitable as recipients for use in human nuclear transfer.” “This is very disappointing because it would mean that production of patient-specific stem cells by this means would be impracticable.”

Dolly was finally created after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the “successful” result, Dolly, aged too rapidly and had to be euthanized.

Pro-life advocates worry that the same phenomenon will happen when scientists attempt to clone human embryos. Eventually hundreds, if not thousands, of unborn children will be killed in the process.
[Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/5/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/12/05/dolly-scientist-says-abandon-embryonic-stem-cell-research/]

Ethical Stem Cell Research Shows Most Promise for Patients

According to data from the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer globally, resulting in an estimated 17.3 million deaths in 2008 alone (1). Such a mind-boggling number may make it difficult to appreciate the fact that each death means the loss of a human person, and a painful vacuum left in the lives of loved ones.

As difficult as this destructive illness may be both on a worldwide and on a personal level, some are beginning to see hope: Because cardiovascular disease accounts for 30% of global deaths, there are worldwide efforts to develop new and better treatments and improve prevention.

As these efforts have exploded over the last decade, stem cell therapy has emerged as perhaps the fastest growing area of interest in biomedical research, and funds from international venture capitalists and other investors have followed quickly behind. Among some of the more fascinating findings are those which demonstrate that some adult stem cells can be coaxed to become a specific cell type, and can then be used to regenerate diseased or injured tissues. Such research has raised hopes that conditions once thought incurable might prove to be treatable after all.

Due to the promise of this potentially lucrative field, however, the debates over the ethics of different types of

research and treatments have at times dominated the headlines. While treating patients with stem cells is not in itself ethically problematic, the primary moral issues revolve around the method of obtaining the cells.

Stem cells obtained from early-stage human embryos are pluripotent, meaning they can give rise to every cell type in the human body, but to obtain them requires the destruction of the embryo… Although in vitro fertilization … has sadly led to a huge and growing “reserve” of frozen human embryos, the moral issues involved in the use of embryonic stem cells, combined with the difficulty in securing funding for research in countries such as the United States, have resulted in an emphasis on finding alternatives to research that requires the destruction of these tiny human beings.

Examples of these alternatives include stem cells derived from adult tissues, amniotic fluid, and umbilical cord blood. Adult human cells can also be induced to take on a pluripotent identity through the manipulation of gene expression, allowing researchers to achieve many of the benefits of embryonic stem cells without having to destroy embryos to obtain them. This latter process of creating induced pluripotent stem cells is an especially exciting area of study.

Since cardiovascular disease is projected to remain the leading cause of death in the foreseeable future, the use of stem cells to repair damaged cardiac tissue has been a key area of research. It was among the top priorities for Geron, a company which had been considered a forerunner in the area of human embryonic stem cell research until its recent decision to discontinue that part of its business and focus instead on cancer drugs (2).

On the same day as the Geron announcement, however, we also learned of two studies that had obtained promising results using adult cardiac stem cells isolated from the patients themselves (3).

At different hospitals, heart tissue biopsies were taken from two patients who had previously experienced heart attacks. Each patient received an infusion containing his own cardiac stem cells (which had been cultured and expanded), and incredibly, the patients actually generated new heart tissue following treatment. As both men were considered to be at high risk for further heart failure, and the damage from their previous heart attacks was previously believed to be irreversible, the resulting regeneration was all the more notable.

Such stories are good news for those who hope to see new and potentially life-saving medical treatments that do not raise ethical questions. It is important to recognize, however, that the success of a research project or medical trial is no guarantee of its moral acceptability, since we do not believe that the ends justify the means. And interestingly, a recent development in the field might point to a further, if implicit, vindication of the often unpopular stand that the [some churches have] taken against embryo-destructive research.

The journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering recently published a study on the use of human embryonic-derived cells for cardiac cell replacement in rats (4). The primary advantage of this approach is that the cells could be used “as is” and not require expansion, which had been a necessary and challenging step in previous approaches.

But this method has a serious drawback in that, unlike bone marrow or cardiac stem cells isolated from the same patient, the cells derived from embryos face the prospect of rejection by the patient’s immune system. The authors of the study, noting this obstacle, suggest that a more suitable cell type to use could be induced pluripotent stem cells, which, as we’ve seen, do not result in the destruction of one human being to save another.

So, for many reasons we should find hope in the latest research which indicates that adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells may perform as well as, or better than, human embryonic stem cells in developing new treatments. Still, much work remains to be done to bring these treatments to the clinical trial stage. Industry standards are some way from being set, and many variables influence researchers’ decisions regarding the methods they choose to develop new approaches for fighting disease: their own preliminary results, the findings of other groups, the availability of funding, restrictions imposed by national and international governing bodies, and restrictions on their ability to patent discoveries.

When confronted with increased regulatory obstacles surrounding the use of human embryos and embryonic stem cell lines, many companies have sought alternatives. Contrary to commonly expressed fears within the scientific community, countries such as the United States which impose stronger restrictions on embryonic stem cell usage in research and medicine have not ceased to be competitive in the global market for medical advances. And interestingly, the lab which pioneered the development of induced pluripotent stem cells is located in Japan, which has been classified as having a “permissive” policy on human embryonic stem cell research (5).

It is therefore important that we continue to exert pressure on our leaders in government to recognize the dignity of human life at all stages and support the efforts of those who seek to perform or fund biomedical research that utilizes an approach that respects human life.

The current news seems to strongly indicate that, contrary to frequently-stated fears, adherence to moral principles need not jeopardize one’s ability to be competitive in research, and to achieve exciting and encouraging results. It is not only possible but necessary to make the pro-life argument on a pragmatic as well as moral basis: it may be possible to change a mind, even without a change of heart.

[1] World Health Organization: Cardiovascular Diseases fact sheet http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/index.html
[2] Johnson, Linda A. “Geron halting stem cell research, laying off staff.” The Associated Press. November 14, 2011. http://news.yahoo.com/geron-halting-stem-cell-research-laying-off-staff-233946222.html
[3] Hellerman, Caleb. “Studies: Stem cells reverse heart damage.” http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/14/health/stem-cells-heart-damage-reverse/index.html
[4] Simpson, David L., Nolan L. Boyd, Sunjay Kaushal, Steve L. Stice, Samuel C. Dudley Jr. “Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Derived-Mesenchymal Cells for Cardiac Repair.” Biotechnology and Bioengineering. Vol. 109, No. 1, January, 2012.
[5] Hoffman, William. “World Stem Cell Map”, University of Minnesota, 2011. http://mbbnet.umn.edu/scmap/competescmap.html

[LifeNews.com Note:  Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., is a Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. She writes for HLI America’s Truth and Charity Forum. This article originally appeared in Zenit. Rebecca Oas, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/9/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/12/09/ethical-stem-cell-research-shows-most-promise-for-patients/]

 

 

 

 

*** GERON Company Halts First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Trial (Commentary)

This is gigantic news that should be on the front page but is instead relegated to the business section.  (I am telling you.  You want accurate stem cell news without all the hype?  Read the business news.)  Geron, the California comp

any that was the first to get FDA approval for human trials with cells derived from embryonic stem cells has decided to shut down the trial and leave embryonic stem cells behind.  From the New York Times:

    The company conducting the world’s first clinical trial of a therapy using human embryonic stem cells said on Monday that it was halting that trial and leaving the stem cell business entirely.

    The company, Geron, said that its move did not reflect a lack of promise for the controversial field. Rather, it said, with money scarce, it had decided to focus on its experimental cancer therapies, which are further along in development.

    “I deeply believe in the promise of stem cells,” John A. Scarlett, the chief executive of Geron, said in an interview. “I don’t think that promise is in any way, shape or form changed by what we’re doing.”

    Still, the move is expected to be widely seen as a setback for the field, because of Geron’s central role.

This is good news showing what pro-lifers have said all along.  Let’s put money into ethical therapies that are farther along in development. But are the patients already enrolled in the study to see if embryonic-derived cells could help spinal cord injury showing results?  No, according to Dr. Scarlett, Geron’s new CEO:

    So far four patients have been treated. Dr. Scarlett of Geron said that there were “no signs” that the treatment was helping the patients. But that was not expected in the initial trial, which was mainly looking at safety.

And so far, he said, there had been no sign of safety problems.

No safety problems is good news for the patients in the trial.  But Geron’s retreat is sure to be a rallying cry to increase federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.  If business is not investing their time and money into embryonic stem cells, then you have to question whether the federal government should be spending our money in this field.  I would prefer to see my tax dollars going to adult stem cell research which is undoubtedly “further along in development.”

LifeNews.com Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).
[Rebecca Taylor | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 11/15/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/11/15/company-halts-first-human-embryonic-stem-cell-research-trial/]

 

 

All the News that’s Fit to Forget: Why You’re Not Hearing Much About Embryonic Stem Cells These Days

For years, the media touted the promise of embryonic stem cells. Year after year, Geron Corporation announced that its embryonic stem cell treatment for acute spinal cord injury would receive FDA approval “next year” for human testing. And year after year, the media dutifully informed readers and viewers that cures were imminent.

When the FDA finally did approve a tiny human trial for 10 patients in January 2009, the news exploded around the world. This was it: The era of embryonic stem cell therapy had arrived!

Not exactly. Last week, Geron issued a terse statement announcing it was not only canceling the study, but abandoning the embryonic stem cell field altogether for financial reasons.

You would think Geron’s failure would be very big news. Instead, it turns out that the mainstream media pay attention only when embryonic stem cell research seems to be succeeding—so far, almost exclusively in animal studies. When, as here, it crashes and burns, it is scarcely news at all.

Indeed, with the laudable exception of the Washington Post—which outshines its competitors in reporting on biotechnology, as when it debunked the widely reported and groundless assertion that embryonic stem cell research could have cured Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease—most of the same news outlets that gave Geron star treatment when it was heralding supposed breakthroughs provided only muted coverage of the company’s retreat into producing anti-cancer drugs.

The Los Angeles Times may be the most egregious offender. A chronic booster of Geron’s embryonic stem cell research, it reported the FDA’s approval of a human trial on January 24, 2009, in a story that began, “Ushering in a new era in medicine .  .  . ” The paper stayed on the story. In October 2010, it reported that the first patient had received an injection, then a few days later it ran a feature about the study under the headline “Hope for Spinal Cord Patients.” During the same period, however, the paper did not report the encouraging results of early human trials of treatments for spinal cord injury developed using adult stem cells.

Then last May, the Times celebrated the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine’s $25 million loan to support Geron’s study, noting that the company’s stem cell product had performed as hoped in rat -studies. Yet the day after Geron’s embryonic stem cell research unit was laid off, the Times couldn’t find the space to print the story, though the following day a blog entry ran on the Times website.

Similarly, the San Francisco Chronicle, which had given front-page exposure to a local company when Geron’s trial got underway, reported the failure of that trial in a small report on the back page of the business section. The New York Times, always quick to applaud embryonic stem cell research, placed a small story at the bottom of page two of the business section. Other outlets carried muted reports, many focusing either on the business consequences for Geron and its stock price, or on the two other human embryonic stem cell trials currently underway, for eye conditions, run by Advanced Cell Technology.

No one should be surprised by the double standard. The media have always been in the tank for embryonic stem cell research, often breathlessly reporting hype and spin from company PR spokesmen as if it were hard news. This approach sprang largely from the media’s antipathy for the pro-life movement, the most prominent opponent of research requiring the destruction of human embryos. Then there was the anti-George W. Bush prism through which science journalists and other reporters usually analyzed the issue. For nearly Bush’s entire presidency, the media used people’s yearning for cures as a hammer to pound the president for his decision to limit federal research funding to projects using stem cell lines already in existence and therefore not requiring the new destruction of human embryos. Rarely noted in all the criticism: During the Bush years, the NIH spent more than $600 million on human embryonic stem cell research.

Making matters worse, even though Bush is off the national stage, most media continue to ignore the parade of advances demonstrated in human trials of treatments relying on adult stem cells. On the very day that Geron packed its bags, for instance, the news broke of a hopeful adult stem cell treatment for heart disease. It was a big story in the United Kingdom: The headline in the Telegraph called it the “Biggest Breakth

rough in Treating Heart Attacks for a Generation.” The story noted:

In the trial, cardiac stem cells were used to repair the severely damaged hearts of 16 patients. It was the first time this had ever been done in humans. After one year, the ejection fraction or “pumping efficiency” of the hearts of eight patients had improved by more than 12 percent. All patients whose progress was followed underwent some level of recovery. .  .  . Although this was an early stage trial and larger studies are needed, scientists believe the promise it shows has huge implications.

How did the New York Times report this story? It didn’t. The L.A. Times? A blog entry. USA Today? Nada. San Francisco Chronicle? At least it was in the paper—on page A16, under the hardly descriptive headline “Regimen Shown To Aid Heart Patients.” And so it goes.

Imagine if a human trial using embryonic stem cells had shown improvement to damaged human hearts. You can just see the banner headline in the New York Times and the breathless announcements on the network news.

The thought experiment makes blatantly obvious the malpractice that plagues reporting in this field—which is doubly regrettable, since not only are editors and reporters undermining the media’s already tarnished reputation for objectivity, but many suffering people and their families still have not heard the hopeful news generated by the ethical exploration of regenerative medicine.

Reprinted from the Weekly Standard with permission. [November 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com), Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, a legal consultant for the Patients Rights Council, and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.]

How Big a Blow was Geron’s Bombshell That it is Bailing on Embryonic Stem Cell Research?    BIG.

Out of nowhere the Geron Corporation announced last week it was not only halting the first clinical trial of embryonic stem cell treatment on humans but getting out of the embryonic stem cell business altogether.

To understand how big a blow to the embryonic stem cell industry this was, you first must know it was Geron that funded the University of Wisconsin Madison’s original research back in 1995, which resulted in the first cultures of embryonic stem cells. It was Geron that started this whole mess.

Geron went on to comprise one-third of the triune that controlled which company or university got access to embryonic stem cell lines, along with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

In its position of power Geron grabbed the “exclusive commercialization rights” to the three most lucrative areas of embryonic stem cell research if treatments are ever found – spinal cord injury, heart disease, and diabetes.

Geron’s juggernaut culminated last year with the FDA’s first approval of embryonic stem cell treatment on human spinal cord injured patients, “triggering a wave of ebullience from scientists, investors and patient advocates,” according to the California Stem Cell Report.

Embryonic stem cell supporters were giddy with hope that Geron would find something, anything, to fulfill the “promise” of embryonic stem cell research.

Former Geron CEO Thomas Okarma (pictured left) only fueled that hope by boasting Geron stock shares would likely soar to “biblical proportions” if its spinal injury research was successful, in which case, he said, “the company’s biggest challenge may be to fend off takeover bids.”

In all, Geron invested 15 years and a whopping $150 million into embryonic stem cell research.

Only to abruptly dump it? What a difference a year makes.  The value of Geron’s stock in the past year has fallen 70%, and since last week’s announcement it has only sunk lower. It is laying off 38% of its workers.

Meanwhile Geron and the media insist the spinal cord trials were going just fine and that Geron’s decision was purely one of “financial priorities.”

But I am not alone in sensing something more is afoot. One speculation, according to Science Magazine:

    The development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are adult cells genetically reprogrammed to resemble embryonic ones, means that Geron’s exclusive licenses may be worth less.

Or worthless, hopefully – obsolete. iPS cells are skin cells thought to have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to grow a variety of ways 1) without the controversy; and 2) without the potential for rejection, since iPS cells come from a patient’s own body and not someone else’s, such as cells from embryos.

Another possibility, quoting ABC News:

    “This company would not walk away from this trial in the absence of an unexpected complication or safety concern, if there was any evidence that it was working,” said Dr. Daniel Salomon, associate professor in the department of molecular and experimental medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.

I spoke with Dr. David Prentice (pictured right) of Family Research Council today. Dr. Prentice is an expert in the field of stem cell research.

Dr. Prentice also speculates something went wrong with the spinal cord trials, which will eventually come to light if true.

“Note the phrase that always shows up,” said Dr. Prentice, “that there are no ‘serious‘ adverse events,” a red flag he thinks.

This is true. Quoting the Associated Press: “So far, the treatment… has been tolerated well without any serious side effects, the company said.”

Quoting Geron’s own press release: “To date, GRNOPC1 has been well tolerated with no serious adverse events.”

Geron and MSM have countered that this initial trial was only to test safety, not improvement.

“But Geron was obviously looking for something positive, beyond that the treatment doesn’t kill the patient,” said Dr. Prentice. “Thirty percent of patients show spontaneous improvement in the first year, and I’m betting Geron was going to take credit.” But nada.

In all, the spines of five patients were injected with embryonic stem cells. Geron has committed to following these patients for 15 years, well beyond the normal length of time trial patients are typically followed. “You only follow that long for something that might cause a tumor,” explained Dr. Prentice, “because it takes years for these tumors to show up.”

Indeed, the chief problem found with embryonic stem cells is they uncontrollably grow into tumors.

Dr. Prentice suspects Geron’s embryonic stem cell department has become a “hot potato” it will now find difficult to dump. The very fact it is halting embryonic stem cell research for economic reasons makes it economically unappealing to buyers.

Some say Geron’s decision may have dealt a death knell to embryonic stem cell research altogether, “wonder[ing] whether the field of embryonic stem cell research has been abandoned in the U.S. completely,” according to ABC.

That may be true of investors, but there’s always government funding, i.e., money belonging to you and I.

[November 22, 2011,  Jill Stanek (JillStanek.com) Reprinted in LifeSiteNews with permission from JillStanek.com; http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/how-big-a-blow-was-gerons-bombshell-that-it-is-bailing-on-em

bryonic-stem-ce?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5c77c6da7e-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines11_22_2011&utm_medium=email]

 

 

 

Commentary: Ethical Stem Cells May Help Patients With Osteogenesis Imperfecta

One of my favorite actors is Atticus Shaffer. He plays the lovably eccentric Brick on my family’s guilty pleasure The Middle.

Besides having an awesome first name, Atticus also has osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) a genetic disorder where there is a mutation in the gene for collagen, an important building block for bones and ligaments.

For Remainder of the article, visit — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/10/28/ethical-stem-cells-help-patients-with-osteogenesis-imperfecta/

 

 

Peyton Manning Has Adult Stem Cell Procedure to Treat Neck
Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts and four-time NFL MVP, apparently went to Europe to get an adult stem cell procedure on his neck, according to a report Sunday by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.
http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/19/peyton-manning-has-adult-stem-cell-procedure-to-treat-neck/

Why Do Peyton Manning, Americans Leave U.S. for Stem Cell Treatment?
The United States has arguably the most advanced health care in the world. Which is why I was surprised at how many Americans are going abroad for stem cell treatments using their own adult stem cells.
http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/21/why-do-peyton-manning-americans-leave-u-s-for-stem-cell-treatment/

Adult Stem Cells Tested to Treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
An Israeli company is conducting a clinical trial using a patient’s own adult stem cells to treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease.) The method using adult stem cells was developed by professors at Tel Aviv University. Cells are taken from a patient’s own bone marrow and differentiated in the lab into astrocytes, cells responsible for nurturing neurons in the brain. By releasing neurotrophic factors, which are proteins that can protect brain cells, the former bone marrow adult stem cells can protect and preserve brain cell function.

Prof. Daniel Offen, one of the developers of the technique, says he and his team bypassed the ethical and safety issues inherent in embryonic stem cells by using adult stem cells derived from a patient’s own bone marrow. In addition, he notes that because the original cells are drawn from the patients themselves, the body should have no adverse reactions.

The clinical trial has been started at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, but could be expanding soon to Massachusetts General Hospital in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
For remainder of article (21 Sept 2011, #5232) — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/21/adult-stem-cells-tested-to-treat-als-lou-gehrigs-disease/

 

 

Obama OKs More Embryonic Funding, Ignores Adult Stem Cells
NIH Director Francis Collins has approved another human embryo-destroying stem cell line for federal taxpayer funding.

The line, HUES PGD 14, was added to the NIH registry today, bringing the total number of approved hESC lines to 136.

For remainder of this article, visit — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/10/12/obama-oks-more-embryonic-funding-ignores-adult-stem-cells/

 

 

IPS Cells May Hold Treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia
Researchers are on the path to using both gene therapy and induced pluriopotent stem cell technology (iPSC) together to create a possible treatment for sickle cell anemia. For remainder of the article, visit — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/10/04/ips-cells-may-hold-treatment-for-sickle-cell-anemia/


 

More Misleading Headlines on Supposed Embryonic Advance
he media is all a buzz about the announcement that researchers in New York were finally able to clone a human embryo and extract stem cells from it. For the remainder of the article, visit — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/10/07/more-misleading-headlines-on-supposed-embryonic-advance/

NIH Revitalization Act & Human Embryo Use


[Note:  People already now know how “biological bits and pieces” of aborted human embryos and human fetuses are in demand industrially and otherwise, used in Pepsi, cheeses, and other foods;  used as the sources of “trans genes” used in some regenerative embryo-destructive medical research (e.g., in embryonic stem cell procedures);  used as sources for the media culture for embryos and stem cells, the feeder layers and “controls” required for the research, etc.  They are a huge part of our economy now!  This article explains how this is “legal”. 

Note that “fetal research” is defined – or, as usual, MIS-defined — in The NIH Revitalization Act (1993) (Public Law 103-43):
SEC. 498B.
   (d) DEFINITIONS – For purposes of this section:
   (1) The term `human fetal tissue' has the meaning given such term in section 498A:
   (g) DEFINITION- For purposes of this section, the term `human fetal tissue' means tissue or cells obtained from a dead human embryo or fetus after a spontaneous or induced abortion, or after a stillbirth.' (emphases added)
    2.  So now the term “fetal tissue” can apply to embryos as well as to fetuses – even when sexually reproduced!  Since the “embryonic period” is actually from fertilization through 8 weeks, then this definition would allow the use of tissues or cells from dead human embryos from fertilization through 8 weeks — as well as from dead fetuses from 9 weeks onward. 
Thus one could get around the “restrictions” of the Dickey Amendment and perform human embryo research simply by calling it “fetal tissue research” (which is now legal) and by using living embryos and fetuses.  [Irving, “Analysis of Legislative and Regulatory Chaos in the U.S.: Asexual Human Reproduction and Genetic Engineering” (October 20, 2004), at:  http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_81chaosasexgen1.html]
  

Identification of this demand for and supply of "fetal tissue" from abortions and the NIH fetal tissue "banks" (even now on NIH websites) in my 1994 article:  "Testimony before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel", at:
www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_32individualtestimony.html ;  PMID: 11652834 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgicmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11

652834
    Now, however, they can reproduce a lot of human embryonic "bits and pieces" in IVF/ART research laboratories and "infertility clinics". D.N. Irving]

Scientists Appeal to Stop Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Funding
Two adult stem cell researchers have filed an appeal in their lawsuit seeking to stop President Barack Obama from forcing taxpayers to spend tens of millions of dollars on embryonic stem cell research that destroys human lives.

In July, a federal judge dismissed one of the lawsuits filed against President Barack Obama’s executive order forcing taxpayers to finance embryonic stem cell research that has yet to help any patients.

Last August, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Obama executive order likely violates that law against federal funding of embryo destruction. But, in April, a federal appeals court ruled Obama can force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research that has never helped any patients.

Responding to that decision, Judge Lamberth dismissed the lawsuit Boston adult stem cell researcher James Shirley filed saying the decision discriminates against researchers who don’t use embryonic stem cells. Lamberth said he is bound to follow the appeals court decision and had no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit.

While again affirming the standing of adult stem cell researchers to challenge these regulations, Judge Lamberth dismissed the case saying that it had no choice under the “mandate rule” but to follow the Court of Appeal’s April 29 ruling that Congress’ ban on human embryonic research was written in a sufficiently “ambiguous” fashion to ban the use of federal funds that risked the “injury or death” of human embryos, but not the use of federal funds to do research on the embryonic stem cells that were derived from such injury or destruction.

Now, Shirley and his co-plaintiff, Dr. Theresa Deisher, have filed a Notice of Appeal in the Sherley et al. v. Sebelius et al. case, and Dr. David Prentice, a pro-adult stem cell research scientist and LifeNews bloger who supports the lawsuit, exlpained more about the latest filing. For remainder of article — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/20/scientists-appeal-to-stop-obamas-embryonic-stem-cell-funding/

 

 

Direct Conversion Challenges Embryonic Stem Cell Research
The Scientist has a great article called “Skipping Pluripotency.” What is pluripotency? Pluripotent is a term used to describe a cell that is undifferentiated… From “Skipping Pluripotency:”
    The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) in 2006 opened the door to promising research and therapeutic techniques, such as the generation of disease models and the potential to replace cells damaged by neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. Derived from fetal or adult cells, iPSC strategies avoided the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells. But they retained one critical drawback—the propensity for tumor formation. In the last 18 months, however, researchers have discovered a new reprogramming technique that could avoid that problem altogether: the direct conversion of one differentiated cell type to another.

    “Skipping pluripotency provides you the opportunity to avoid any possible tumorigenic source of cells,” says molecular biologist Vania Broccoli of the Stem Cells and Neurogenesis Unit at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy. “We believe that we are providing now a new source of cells which have an improved potential for these treatments and can be translated in the human systems.”

So far the scientists are only using direct conversion in mouse cells and only in the lab.  They are working to make sure that directly converted cells work inside the mouse as well. Researhcers also need to find safer ways to accomplish the direct conversion before using this technique clinically, but direct conversion holds great promise.

The important thing to take home is that these scientists want to continue developing a technique to skip pluripotency altogether.  This challenges the idea that pluripotent stem cells are the most desirable in stem cell research.  And since pluripotent stem cells are the kind that you get by ripping open embryos, this direct conversion technique further challenges the idea that stem cell research needs embryos at all…
For the complete article — http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/20/direct-conversion-challenges-embryonic-stem-cell-research/
[Rebecca Taylor | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 9/20/11]

 

 

 

Adult Stem Cell Treatment May Help Unborn Avoid Premature Birth
Up to 40 percent of premature births are caused by a rupture in the membrane surrounding the foetus, causing labor. Babies born before 24 weeks have a poor chance of survival while later babies are at higher risk of birth complications.

Previous attempts to treat this problem have not been successful, but some UK researchers are hoping that they’ve finally found the answer [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2039201/Premature-birth-Stem-cell-patch-save-thousands-pregnancies-repairing-foetal-membrane.html].

A team from the Reading school of pharmacy have successfully developed sac membrane in the lab using stem cells from placentas obtained after births and created a ‘repair’ patch designed to be placed over the rupture using keyhole surgery.

Dr. Che Connon, who published the findings in the journal Tissue Engineering, told the UK Daily Mail, ‘We were able to manipulate the cells to make a material that is almost the same as a woman’s natural membrane.

‘It is tough and we are confident it would do the job and hold a pregnancy in place.’

Dr Anna David, a consultant obstetrician and expert in premature birth at University College of London Hospitals Trust, said: ‘If we could use these membranes then we would be able to preserve pregnancies and save women from losing their babies.

‘This would be particularly beneficial for women whose membranes rupture before 24 weeks as the chances of these babies surviving are not very high. Before 20 weeks their lungs are simply not viable.’

Using adult (not embryonic) stem cells to help save unborn babies?  It really doesn’t get more “pro-life” than that!

Dr Connon believes human trials will start in two years’ time and the treatment could be introduced by 2016.

Dr Anna David, Dr Adam Squires and Dr Che Connon are working to create stem cell patches to prevent early birth. [photo, UK Daily Mail]

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2039201/Premature-birth-Stem-cell-patch-save-thousands-pregnancies-repairing-foetal-membrane.html#ixzz1hOZxxQzy

LifeNews.com Note: Chelsea Zimmerman is a 28-year-old pro-life advocate from Missouri who received a spinal cord injury in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. She serves on the board of Missouri Right to Life and blogs at Reflections of a Paralytic.
[Chelsea Zimmerman | London, England | LifeNews.com | 9/23/11,  http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/23/adult-stem-cell-treatment-may-help-unborn-avoid-premature-birth/
]

 

 

ALTERNATE VIEW: If Amniotic Sac is Infected, Stem Cell Patch May be a Bad Idea
Researcher Brent Rooney offers an alternative view to the Adult Stem Cell Amniotic Membrane Patch:
"It may well be true that they can extend a pregnancy closer to full-term, but will the extension promote or DAMAGE the gestating baby's health? If a tiny gestating baby resides in an INFECTED amniotic sac, is he/she better off staying within or getting born? Often 'Mother Nature', says to a preemie 'It's time you saw the light of day.'"

Rooney suggests that the BEST approach is Primary Prevention. As the old Ben Franklin adage notes, 'An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure'.

The woman's body should be protected against the possibility of prematurity, as much as is possible.

There are three important preventive ways to do this:
1) have a first delivery under the age of 25; the modern trend toward first delivery well over age 25 only leads to adverse effects
2) avoid abortion; instruments used during the abortion tend to damage the cervical muscle tissue so that it is not strong enough to maintain the pregnancy as the weight of the baby presses on the cervix
3) follow through with good prenatal care and physician oversight

Rooney notes that "In 21st century medical science there is a strong preference for the exotic over plain old cost-effective."

Rather than trying to force a pregnancy to continue that may endanger the baby, it is much better to protect against the negative scenario in the first place by taking the three simple steps above, and providing the best gestational environment possible.

A strong, healthy woman who has not injured her reproductive organs and who gets regular prenatal check-ups will have the best chance of carrying her baby to full term — 40 weeks — which will provide the child with the best chance of a healthy future.

[Editor, 23 Dec 2011; Brent Rooney response to above article about adult stem cell patch for amniotic sac to prevent preterm delivery]


 

 

Missouri House Defeats Pro-Life Limits on Embryo-Destructive Stem Cell Research
The Missouri state House defeated an amendment supported by Missouri Right to life that would have put pro-life limits on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning in the Missouri Science Innovation & Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA). http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/23/missouri-house-defeats-pro-life-limits-on-embryonic-research/