Stem Cell - Archive

January 2006: Stem Cell & Cloning Research

Research of Korean Embryonic Stem Cell Scientist Declared “Intentionally Fabricated”

Adult Stem Cell Research Discovery May Change Entire Debate

U.S. Congress Passes $300 Million+ Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Bill – President Bush Signs It 20Dec05

Ian Wilmut wants to Experiment with ESCs on Dying Humans

Singer Don Ho Treated with Adult Stem Cells for Heart Problems…

RESEARCH OF KOREAN EMBRYONIC STEM-CELL SCIENTIST DECLARED “INTENTIONALLY FABRICATED”. The research of Korean embryonic stem-cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk has been declared “intentionally fabricated” by a panel of scientists at Seoul National University, 23Dec05. “Based on these findings, data in the 2005 Science journal cannot be regarded as a simple accidental error but as intentional fabrication made out of two stem cells,” the investigators reported.

“This is a serious wrongdoing that has damaged the foundation of science.” The once national hero said, “I sincerely apologize to the people for creating shock and disappointment”. [BBC; SEOUL, 23Dec05, LifeSiteNews.com]. Hwang resigned:  “As a symbol of apology, I step down as professor of Seoul National University.”

Despite admissions from Hwang’s colleagues that the embryonic stem cell research was faked and the SNU probe confirmed it, Hwang was still defiant 23Dec saying that he did produce patient-specific cells [LifeNews.com, 24Dec05].

Prof of veterinary medicine Hwang Woo Suk’s unregulated attempts to clone a human being were hit with ethics charges from American scientist Dr. Schatten [Univ Pittsburgh] who quit Hwang’s team, following disclosure of coercion in obtaining eggs for money from young female researchers. Hwang’s associate, Dr. Roh Sung-il, said that Hwang pressured scientists in the lab at Mizmedi Hospital to fake project data. Corruption is an inextricable part of this misguided scheme. [FRC, 15Dec05]

South Korean Univ began its investigation into the fraudulent embryonic stem cell research conducted by Hwang and his team. Hwang’s team [5/05 Science medical journal] argued it had overcome a significant hurdle for embryonic stem cells by cloning patient-specific cells.

Chairman Chung Myung-hee acknowledged there were “fatal errors” in the research paper — more than duplicated photographs of the same stem cells. A top associate of Hwang’s contended all but 2 of the 11 embryonic stem cell lines were fabricated and the authenticity of the remaining lines were unknown. SNU officials released a statement saying they were also questioning ~20 of Hwang’s colleagues and reviewing their work.

Hwang admitted manipulating the paper [Donga newspaper South Korea]. The committee will look into the problems associated with the duplicated photos and DNA published in the Science paper as well as looking at the actual research results. [LifeNews.com, 19Dec05; Seoul, South Korea]

On 23Dec05, the Genetics Policy Institute, an advocacy group fighting for more taxpayer funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research, withdrew its 2005 Global Achievement Award given to Hwang at its annual dinner [Houston, 5/05; LifeNews.com, 24Dec05].

The Seoul National University experts said Hwang had faked results of at least 9 of 11 stem cell lines. To create fake results, the team split cells from 1 patient into 2 test tubes, rather than actually matching cloned cells to the patient’s original cells.

Hwang resigned last month as head of the World Stem Cell Hub after admitting he used eggs from female workers at his lab in violation of ethics guidelines. [AP, 12-23-05; EF News & Notes, 30Dec05]

Observers are now questioning whether Hwang’s claims to have cloned an Afghan hound it named Snuppy in 8/05 are false too. Professor Trounson [stem cell researcher, Australia’s Monash Univ] says the Snuppy claims are “very much in doubt now.” The journal Nature, which published the report about Snuppy, is reviewing the paper to see if the results are authentic.

[Comment: Note this quote: “It’s all very well to say one scandal shouldn’t set back the field, but Hwang’s team was the field,” said Richard Doerflinger [Dir, USCCB, e-mail]. “If his results are false, then after 7 years of attempts worldwide no one has succeeded in getting even the first step in ‘therapeutic cloning’ to work on a practical scale. At what point do legislators stop throwing away good money after bad?” While the major media insists on portraying the embryo-destructive stem cell opposition as “just religious belief”, the reality is that using embryos is a very expensive dead end. (N. Valko, RN)][http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/23/AR2005122301518.html Stem Cell Fraud Worries U.S. Scientists] [LifeNews.com, 24Dec05]

Meanwhile, a former Hwang team U.S. researcher got $30,000 [Seoul National Univ review board] in cash from Hwang just before he was scheduled to meet with a Korean broadcast news team. Apparently, others also received such payments. The board said it would leave it to Korea’s prosecution to look into the origins and circumstances of the payments. [Special Reporting Team  28Dec05, JoongAng Daily  http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200512/27/200512272215250179900090409041.html]

ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH DISCOVERY MAY CHANGE ENTIRE DEBATE.  Scientists [Univ of Louisville] have reportedly found stem cells from adult mice to change into brain, nerve, heart muscle and pancreatic cells, thus defining these adult stem cells as “pluripotent”.

The discovery could greatly expand the dozens of therapies and treatments already available from adult stem cells and the researcher say it could end the entire stem cell research debate. “We have found a counterpart for embryonic stem cells in adult bone marrow. This could negate the ethical concerns,” said Mariusz Ratajczak [leader, research team, dir stem cell biology program, university’s James Graham Brown Cancer Ctr].

His team announced the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta & presented a paper 13Dec showing how the pluripotent adult stem cells repaired damaged heart tissue in mice having strokes.

If the VSEL stem cells in humans act like the special ones they found in mice, and if other scientists can duplicate the process, the discovery goes from “very important” to “incredibly important,” Dr. Stephen Emerson, chief of hematology/oncology at the Univ of PA. [Ertelt, LifeNews.com 13Dec05, Louisville, KY]

CONGRESS PASSES $300 MILLION+ CORD BLOOD STEM CELL BILL – PRES BUSH SIGNS. The Smith-Stupak bill passed the House 24May by 431-1. On 16-17Dec, Congress passed an amended version of H.R. 2520, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act. On 20Dec, President Bush signed the measure into law (Public Law 109-129).

The subsequent House vote approving the amended bill was 413-yes, 0-no. [NCHLA, E-Mail Memo, 21Dec05]

Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available.

This Act will increase the number of cord blood units and cord blood stem cells available for treating patients and research will greatly increase. It provides a $265 million for life-saving stem cell therapeutic therapy, cord blood and bone marrow treatment.

The legislation authorizes $79 million for the collection of cord blood stem cells with the goal of reaching a total inventory of 150,000 units, making matched stem cells available to treat more than 90% of patients, with a particular focus on providing genetic d

iversity.

It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system at $186 million over the next 5 years and combines both systems – cord blood and bone marrow – under a new program to provide an easy, single access point for information for doctors and patients.

The national program would promote stem cell research by requiring participating cord blood banks to donate units that are not suitable for transplant to researchers who are working on new applications for cord blood stem cells. In addition, for the first time, a nationwide stem cell transplantation system would be established.

Thousands have been successfully treated with cord blood stem cells for more than 67 diseases including Leukemia and Sickle Cell Anemia.

“Indeed, one of the best kept secrets in America today is that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases.”  [LifeSiteNews.com, 19Dec05; DC]

 

ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH DEFENDED Another researcher has nixed the idea that embryo-destructive stem cells hold great promise. Dr. David Prentice [speech, Rutgers Univ]: “We keep hearing about the promise of embryonic stem cells, but the claims are simply unsubstantiated. At this point in time there is little evidence of the effectiveness of embryonic stem cells. Proponents have yet to take even one dish of embryonic stem cells and have these cells change into one specific cell, [like] a heart cell or brain cell. Based on experiments to date, it’s not safe to even try and apply them to patients. The bottom line is that our real promise lies not in the use of embryonic stem cells but with Adult Stem Cells. Adult stem cells are today already at work in patients. I can document, through published scientific papers, with over 65 human diseases, where patients are better already, having been effectively treated through adult stem cells.”

“We must value every human life. We need to push ethical science…The ethical problem is that you have to kill a human embryo, a young human life, in order to obtain an embryonic stem cell. What we are dealing with is a human being at its earliest stage of life.”   “This is America’s opportunity to provide world leadership in ethical research. This research promises genuine cures and does not involve destruction of human life…Umbilical cord blood stem cells are saving lives now. H.R. 2520 will promote the development and use of this new technology today and into the future.”  [15Nov05, http://www.ccbama.com/audio/CCBAMA-111505.mp3; FRC; NCHLA]

IAN WILMUT WANTS TO EXPERIMENT WITH ESCs ON THE DYING. Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly and now a would-be cloner of human embryos wants to experiment on dying people. Rather than go through the usual process of animal studies to test efficacy/safety, he wants to switch quickly to conducting embryonic stem cell experiments upon dying people on the basis that the experiments would be “high risk but high gain” procedures.

This has a certain surface attraction. After all, if people are dying, what’s the harm? Well the harm could be substantial. First, unlike some experimental cancer treatments carried out on those dying of late stage disease to see if they can gain extra time, embryonic stem cells have not proven themselves to be “high gain” in animal studies yet. Therefore, it cannot be said whether or to what extent they would offer any real hope at all to the patient.

Second, it is quite possible if things go wrong, that they could increase the patient’s suffering, perhaps causing brain cancer [tumors are a major problem]. 

Third, we could fall headlong into the trap of looking upon our dying as so many guinea pigs, furthering the dehumanization that seems to go hand-in-hand with therapeutic cloning and ESCR research. Moreover, such a scheme would seem to violate agreed upon protocols for human medical experimentation.

Fourth, if the dying will not be with us for long enough to really test the procedures, who would be next on Wilmut’s list? Those in persistent vegetative states? How about quadriplegics who would rather risk a brain tumor than live paralyzed? Once we begin down that road, we enter very dangerous territory. Dying people are not dead: They are living. And they should be treated as fully equal and included members of the community. Using them in place of lab rats and potentially causing them great harm does quite the opposite, unless there is at least some realistic potential for therapeutic gain. [Wesley Smith; from N. Valko RN, 27Dec05]

SINGER DON HO (“Tiny Bubbles”) reports that an experimental Adult stem cell procedure saved his life. Ho suffers from nonischemic cardiomyopathy, a weakened heart muscle not due to blockages in the coronary arteries.

Doctors multiplied stem cells taken from his blood and injected them into his heart in 12/05 in hopes of strengthening the organ. He was among the first patients selected for the VesCell adult stem cell therapy, developed by TheraVitae Co., performed in Thailand & supervised by Dr. Amit Patel [heart surgeon Univ of Pittsburgh Med Ctr]. AP, 12-22-05; EF News & Notes, 30Dec05]  [AP, J. Song, 23Dec05, http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/23/D8ELPR3G8.html; Don Ho: http://donho.com]

UMBILICAL CORD STEM CELLS ARE SAVING BABIES – EMBRYO-DESTRUCTIVE RESEARCH NOT NEEDED. For newborn Aleasia in FL, uncontroversial umbilical cord blood stem cells (UCBSCs) have already spelled “healthy future”. Shakera Neal’s first child died before he was 4 months old of an inherited immune-system disorder.

When Neal became pregnant again with Aleasia, doctors diagnosed Aleasia with the same disorder; physicians at Jackson Children’s Hospital in Miami used a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood of a closely matched donor given by the parents of another newborn in order to provide Aleasia with a normal immune system.

The procedure saved Aleasia’s life and now she is a healthy 2 year-old girl.

At least 700 such transplants have been performed since 2001 at university medical centers. Dr. Gary Kleiner, assistant professor of pediatrics and co-director of stem cell transplants at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine says the umbilical cord stem cells are very useful because they are easier to use and have the same properties as bone marrow cells.

The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine estimates that some 11,700 people could benefit annually from the transplants if more donations of umbilical cord blood were encouraged. Visit www.stemcellresearch.org.

[South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Ertelt, LifeNews.com 11Dec05, Ft. Lauderdale, FL]

 

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL THERAPIES TO CURE DISEASE IS “PURE FOLLY”, SAYS MIT PROF. [MIT assoc prof biological engineering] Dr. James Sherley revealed that many scientists are afraid to criticize embryonic stem-cell research out of fear of reprisals [interview web magazine, MercatorNet]. “Embryonic stem cells cannot be used directly [because] they form tumors when transplanted into mature tissues.”

Professor Sherley also explained that an embryo, from its first moment of having “diploid DNA” is a human being and therefore must be protected.

“Given that embryos are human beings, they have a right to self and a right to life…Exploiting their parts (ie, cells) or killing them for research is moral trespass that society should not allow. Even if the research might, and let’s be clear, might benefit others, this trespass is not justified.” [Terry Vanderheyden 12Dec05 LifeSiteNews.com Full interview: 

  http://www.mercatornet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=193]