Stem Cell - Archive

July & June 2007: Stem Cell & Cloning Research

Adult Stem Cell Research Makes Progress for Heart Patients as Embryonic Debate Goes On

Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Research Treatments Help Children With Type 1 Diabetes  

Adult Stem Cells From Human Umbilical Cord Blood Successfully Engineered To Make Insulin (CP, 6/07) 

Study Shows Adult Stem Cell Research Helps Type 1 Diabetics (JAMA, 4/07)

Adult Stem Cell Patch Restores Vision: Corneal Cultivation Opens Way to Assist People with Eye Surface Damage

UK Reproductive Tech Bill Allows Much More than Human/Animal Hybrids

NEW! US House Committee Adopts Amendment for Adult Stem Cell Research Inventory Program; Congress Works Toward Funding Ethical Stem Cell Research  

Ireland Neurologist: Patients Being Misled About Embryonic Stem Cell Research Benefits

Stowers Embryonic Stem Cell Research Institute Puts Expansion Plans on Hold    

Delaware Defeats Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill…  

ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH MAKES PROGRESS AS EMBRYONIC DEBATE GOES ON. As politicians continue to debate funding embryonic stem cell research, studies on adult stem cells show continued promise.

In the first trial of its kind in the world, 60 patients who have recently suffered a major heart attack will be injected with selected stem cells from their own bone marrow during routine coronary bypass surgery.

The Bristol trial will test whether the stem cells will repair heart muscle cells damaged by the heart attack, by preventing late scar formation and hence impaired heart contraction.

Dr. Raimondo Ascione [University of Bristol and colleagues at the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI)] have been awarded a grant of £210,000 from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to conduct the clinical trial.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the BHF, said: ”We hope that this exciting Bristol project will provide information taking us a step nearer to the day when stem cells can be used routinely to help repair damaged hearts.”

In a heart attack, part of the heart muscle loses its blood supply (usually due to furring up of the arteries with fatty material) and cells in that part of the heart die, leaving a scar. This reduces the ability of the heart to pump blood around the body. While the blood supply to the heart can be improved with coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty, thereby reducing the risk of further heart attacks, these techniques do not restore the viability and function of the area already damaged. In 3-6 months after surgery, 20 per cent of patients develop a thinning of the walls of the heart, which in its most extreme form, can lead to congestive heart failure. Dr Raimondo Ascione, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, said: “We have elected to use a very promising stem cell type selected from the patient’s own bone marrow. This approach ensures no risk of rejection or infection. It also gets around the ethical issues that would result from use of stem cells from embryonic or fetal tissue." [25June07, DC, LifeNews.com]

UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD STEM CELL RESEARCH HELPS CHILDREN WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES. Another study has been published showing that adult stem cell research has not only just as much potential as embryo-destructive stem cells, but actual immediate ability to help patients with various diseases.

Researchers [University of Florida] found that stem cells from umbilical cord blood helped children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The study found that stem cell transfusions using the UC stem cells helped the children reduce their disease severity, possibly re-setting the immune system and slowing the destruction of their insulin-producing cells.

Michael J. Haller, MD [prof, Univ of Florida College of Medicine; lead author of the study] presented the findings at the American Diabetes Association's 67th Annual Scientific Sessions. "After only six months, it is too early to tell how long the children will benefit from this therapy, but early signs indicate that it may have helped enhance blood glucose control and management," Dr. Haller said in a statement.

"But more important than the potential benefit in these children, this first use of cord blood in diabetes will help us focus on what it is in the cord blood that yielded the benefit," he said. "We then hope to isolate and grow that cell type to develop therapies for a larger pool of people, not just those who have stored cord blood."

The researchers recruited seven young (age 2 to 7 years at the time of infusion) children with type 1 diabetes who had their own stored cord blood and infused them with it.

This group was matched with 13 randomly selected youngsters of similar age and diabetes duration who had been intensively treated with insulin and served as a control group.

Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Diabetes can lead to severely debilitating or fatal complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, and amputations. It is the fifth leading cause of death by disease in the U.S. [27June07, Chicago, LifeNews.com]
 

 

ADULT STEM CELLS FROM HUMAN CORD UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD SUCCESSFULLY ENGINEERED TO MAKE INSULIN. In a fundamental discovery that someday may help cure Type 1 Diabetes by allowing people to grow their own insulin-producing cells for a damaged or defective pancreas, medical researchers at the University of

Texas have reported that they have engineered adult stem cells derived from human umbilical cord blood to produce insulin.

The researchers announced their laboratory finding, which caps nearly four years of research, in the June 2007 issue of the medical journal Cell Proliferation, posted online this week. Their paper calls it "the first demonstration that human umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells can be engineered" to synthesize insulin.

"This discovery tells us that we have the potential to produce insulin from adult stem cells to help people with diabetes," said Dr. Randall J. Urban, senior author of the paper, professor and chair of internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and director of UTMB’s Nelda C. and Lutcher H. J. Stark Diabetes Center. Stressing that the reported discovery is extremely basic research, Urban cautioned: "It doesn’t prove that we’re going to be able to do this in people — it’s just the first step up the rung of the ladder."

The lead author of the paper, UTMB professor of internal medicine/endocrinology Larry Denner, said that by working with adult stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells, doctors practicing so-called regenerative medicine eventually might be able to extract stem cells from an individual’s blood, then grow them in the laboratory to large numbers and tweak them so that they are directed to create a needed organ. In this way, he said, physicians might avoid the usual pitfall involved in transplanting cells or organs from other people — organ rejection, which requires organ recipients to take immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of their lives.

Huge numbers of stem cells are thought to be required to create new organs. Researchers might remove thousands of donor cells from an individual and grow them in the laboratory into billions of cells, Denner explained. Then, for a person with type 1 diabetes, researchers might engineer these cells to become islets of Langerhans, the cellular masses that produce the hormone insulin, which allows the body to utilize sugar, synthesize proteins and store neutral fats, or lipids. "But we’re a long way from that," Denner warned.

Denner said this research, which reflects a fruitful collaboration with co-authors Drs. Colin McGuckin and Nico Forraz at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, used human umbilical cord blood because it is an especially rich source of fresh adult stem cells and is easily available from donors undergoing Caesarian section deliveries in UTMB hospitals.
[28May2007, Galveston, TX, LifeSiteNews.com; "Directed engineering of umbilical cord blood stem cells to produce C-peptide and insulin", L. Denner, Y. Bodenburg, J. G. Zhao, M. Howe, J. Cappo, R. G. Tilton, J. A. Copland, N. Forraz, C. McGuckin and R. Urban, pages 367–380]

Abstract. Objectives: In this study, we investigated the potential of umbilical cord blood stem cell lineages to produce C-peptide and insulin. Materials and methods: Lineage negative, CD133+ and CD34+ cells were analyzed by flow cytometry to assess expression of cell division antigens. These lineages were expanded in culture and subjected to an established protocol to differentiate mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) toward the pancreatic phenotype. Phase contrast and fluorescence immunocytochemistry were used to characterize differentiation markers with particular emphasis on insulin and C-peptide.

Results: All 3 lineages expressed SSEA-4, a marker previously reported to be restricted to the ESC compartment. Phase contrast microscopy showed all three lineages recapitulated the treatment-dependent morphological changes of ESCs as well as the temporally restricted expression of nestin and vimentin during differentiation. After engineering, each isolate contained both C-peptide and insulin, a result also obtained following a much shorter protocol for ESCs.

Conclusions: Since C-peptide can only be derived from de novo synthesis and processing of pre-proinsulin mRNA and protein, we conclude that these results are the first demonstration that human umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells can be engineered to engage in de novo synthesis of insulin. [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2184.2007.00439.x]

STUDY SHOWS ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH HELPS TYPE 1 DIABETES (JAMA, 4/07). Adult stem cells were able to spur prolonged insulin independence in patients.

Researchers from Brazil found success with transplanting adult stem cells into patients with newly diagnosed type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes.

Dr. Julio C. Voltarelli, from the Regional Blood Center, said the results were "very encouraging"; it was the first time a treatment had been used in human type 1 diabetes [Reuters].

The study involved 15 diabetic patients and who had been diagnosed in the previous six weeks and required insulin. The doctors harvested the patients' own stem cells and injected them intravenously.

In the follow-up, 14 of the patients became insulin free — 1 for 35 months, 4 for at least 12 months, and 7 patients for at least 6 months. Two patients responded later to the treatments and were insulin free for one and fifteen months respectively.

The authors wrote a report on their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association's April 11 edition.

“Very encouraging results were obtained in a small number of patients with early-onset disease,” the authors wrote.

"Ninety-three per cent of patients achieved different periods of insulin independence and treatment-related toxicity was low, with no mortality.”

Richard Burt, a co-author of the study from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago:
“As a research scientist I am always hesitant to speak of a cure, but the initial results have been good and show the importance of conducting more trials” [London Guardian].

More testing is needed, but he's hopeful the adult stem cell studies will yield more widespread treatments. “It will probably be five to eight years before we see a treatment being widely available,” he said.
[11Apr07, LifeNews.com, DC]

 

ADULT STEM CELL PATCH RESTORES VISION: CORNEAL CULTIVATION OPENS WAY TO ASSIST PEOPLE WITH EYE SURFACE DAMAGE. A man's vision has been restored by a corneal patch grown from adult stem cells by a team at the University of Melbourne's Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and the Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery (BOBIM).

The patch, which replicates the cornea, was cultivated from a single stem cell from a donor eye and was transplanted to the surface of the man's eyes.

The research team was led by Dr Mark Daniell (CERA) and Dr Erik Thompson (BOBIM).

The process, known as a limbal stem cell transplant, is thought to be the first of its kind in Australia. The Melbourne success significantly advances international research in limbal stem cell transplantation in the eyes.

The patient had severe vision loss caused by stem cell failure on the surface of the eye, causing scarring and a vascularised and opaque appearance.

"He had reduced mobility, could not read and could not work, but he has now resumed duties as an accountant, enjoys sight (slightly lower than normal 20/20 acuity) and has increased mobility and quality of life and renewed optimism," Dr Daniell reports.

He says the surface of the man's eyes was removed and the patch (about 50mm long and a micron thick) was applied and is healing well. "This technique can now assist people with alkaline burns who have damage to the surface of their eyes."

Dr Daniell and his team are now working toward developing a totally bio-engineered cornea, using a stem cell extracted from elsewhere on a person's body other than the eye. [Melbourne, 18April2007 LifeSiteNews.com]

 

UK REPRODUCTIVE TECH BILL ALLOWS MUCH MORE THAN HUMAN/ANIMAL HYBRIDS. British pro-life organization, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), has called the Labour government’s new embryo research bill “unethical” and will likely oppose it vigorously.

UK REPRODUCTIVE TECH BILL ALLOWS MUCH MORE THAN HUMAN/ANIMAL HYBRIDS. British pro-life organization, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), has called the Labour government’s new embryo research bill “unethical” and will likely oppose it vigorously.

Anthony Ozimic, confirmed to LifeSiteNews.com that the legislation codifies into primary legislation what had until now only been allowed piecemeal by the regulatory agency, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Over the years since its establishment in 1991, the HFEA has become notorious for permitting experimentation on living human embryos regardless of the objections of traditional ethicists. Ozimic predicted that it would be a year before the legislation passes into law and it must first go through an examination in health committees. Little hope exists for it to be substantially altered or quashed, however, since the Labour party holds a majority in the House of Commons and most of the opposition Tory MP’s have little objection in principle for the use of embryos in research.

Since the passage of the 1990 Reproductive Technologies Act, the British lead has been taken as a model in legislation around the world and will likely continue to do so with the new legislation. The government’s own explanatory notes hints this international influence was part of the motivation for the new bill. “The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act has, over the past 16 years, been a model that many countries across the world have looked towards in determining their own approaches to assisted reproduction and embryo research.”

While news agencies focus on the bill’s legalizing the creation of human/animal hybrid clones, the bill proposes sweeping changes to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.

It will enshrine in primary legislation greater facilitation of embryo research, the creation of designer babies and wider use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for eugenic selection of embryos, the creation of “saviour siblings” for tissue matching, and sex-selection on “medical grounds”.

The bill moves into the realm of social re-engineering as it re-defines the meaning in law of parenthood, formally removing reference to the “need of a child for a father,” in artificial procreation and extending the rights of parenthood to same-sex partners.

Ozimic says the bill undermines the meaning of family, “mother” and “father, “As if these were merely terms denoting changeable social and legal constructs rather than unchangeable natural realities with social and legal responsibilities.”

The bill allows scientists to create "cytoplasmic" hybrid embryos, which are 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent animal, such as cow or rabbit.

The legislation also goes further, in that it allows human embryos to be altered by the introduction of animal DNA. It is hoped that the hybrid embryos – also referred to as chimeras – could help tackle the shortage of human eggs available for research. True hybrids – creatures created by the fusion of sperm and eggs – remain outlawed. In all cases, it remains illegal to allow hybrid embryos to grow for more than 14 days or for them to be implanted in a womb.

Q & A: ANIMAL-HUMAN HYBRIDS
What is a hybrid animal-human embryo?
Scientists take DNA from human cells and place it in animal eggs which have had most of their genetic material removed. Embryos grown from the eggs are more than 99 per cent human, with only a tiny animal component. Once the embryos have been grown in the lab – for no longer than 14 days – scientists can harvest stem cells for research.

Who is hoping to carry out research with hybrid embryos? Two teams of British scientists, from London and Newcastle, have already sought permission to create animal-human hybrids for research. Professor Ian Wilmut, of Edinburgh Uni

versity, had also been preparing his application for chimera research.
Related: Embryo Research Oversight Agencies Ruled by Utilitarian Eugenic “Ethics”
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091302.html
English Scientists Ask Permission to Create Human/Cow Clones
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/nov/06110707.html
[18May07, http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=771592007, http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=10; 22May07, White, LONDON, LifeSiteNews.com] 

 

 

US HOUSE COMMITTEE ADOPTS AMENDMENT FOR ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH INVENTORY PROGRAM to the fiscal year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill to promote adult stem cell research. The amendment was added Tuesday night by pro-life Rep. Chris Smith [R-NJ] and Artur Davis, a pro-abortion Alabama Democrat. The amendment makes it so the federal government fully funds the National Cord Blood Inventory program at $15 million for the fiscal year after giving only partial funding in previous years. The program provides for banking of ethically non-controversial stem cells that are treating people today, unlike embryonic stem cell research. Rep. Dave Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat who heads the House Appropriations Committee, accepted the amendment without a roll call vote, so it will now be included in the bill. The Senate has not yet passed its version of this bill; however the Senate Appropriations Committee Report provides $12 million for cord blood. It is hoped that the final enacted bill will fully fund this important program at the House-passed level. [18July07, DC (LifeNews.com]

CONGRESS WORKS TOWARD FUNDING ETHICAL STEM CELL RESEARCH. Kansas senator and Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback recently voted against the 2008 spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Education because the measure has a provision that would overturn President Bush’s limits on funding new embryonic stem cell research. However, Brownback was successful in getting language in the bill funding an institute that conducts research using adult stem cells. Brownback successfully got language for a $500,000 grant to S. 1710 for the Midwest Institute for Comparative Stem Cell Biology. The institute is part of Kansas State University and primary looks at stem cells from human and animal umbilical cord blood. It has shown promise in experiments as treatments for Parkinson’s and breast cancer, said institute co-founder Mark Weiss, according to a CQ report. The earmark would double the institute’s funding, Weiss said. “That would be awesome if we could get some federal support. We’ve really been inching along here and that would help us take it to the next level.” As LifeNews.com previously reported, the Senate Appropriations Committee ultimately approved the spending bill 26-3 in June and Brownback could lead an effort soon on the Senate floor to remove the pro-ESCR funding provision from the bill or filibuster the bill entirely because of it. On July 17, during floor debate, the House accepted by unanimous consent an amendment offered by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Artur Davis (D-AL) to increase funding for the Cord Blood Program from the $4 million in the bill to the $15 million authorized. Without the added funding, "the current grant recipients will have to dramatically scale back in their cord blood banking initiatives just as they’re ramping up," Rep. Smith noted in the floor debate (CR H7949, 7/17/2007). Two years ago, the President signed the Stem Cell Research and Therapeutic Act into law (Public Law 109-129), a measure authorizing programs to promote the use of cord blood stem cells and bone marrow in research and treatment.
[As reported from Committee, the Senate’s FY 2008 Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Bill (S. 1710) allocates $12 million for the Cord Blood Program.] [13July07, DC (LifeNews.com; NCHLA Congressional Update, 20July07]

 

 

 
IRELAND NEUROLOGIST: PATIENTS MISLED ABOUT ESCR. A prominent neurologist in Ireland says patients with incurable diseases are being misled about how embryonic stem cell research could possibly help them. Dr. Orla Hardiman spoke with the Irish Medical Times in advance of the annual Neurology Update Meeting. She said some of her patients have been “exploited” by the stem cell industry and have traveled to foreign countries with the hope that miracle cures will alleviate their medical issues. “It is important to put into context the potential benefits, but also the current limitations, in the use of stem cells,” said Dr Hardiman, a consultant neurologist in Beaumont Hospital. “I’ve had patients who have raised money to go to places like Ukraine or Rotterdam in the vain hope that embryonic stem cell therapy is going to cure their incurable disease. I think it’s very important to be clear about what stem cells can do. What we want to do, with this conference, is inject a bit of realism into the media coverage about [embryonic] stem cell research.” [18July07, LifeNews.com, Belfast, Ireland]
 
STOWERS EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH INST PUTS EXPANSION ON HOLD. The Stowers Institute for Medical Research upset pro-life advocates last year when it spent millions of dollars forcing Missouri residents to promote embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. Now officials there say they are suspending plans to significantly expand the institute. They say they’re concerned about a new effort there to try to scale back Amendment 2, the ballot initiative voters very narrowly approved last year. Stowers announced the plans to stop the expansion after it failed to recruit a slew of new scientists following the passage of the ballot proposal — that’s because it will have another fight on its hands as early as 2008 to close the loopholes in Amendment 2 that allow for the promotion of human cloning for research purposes. Despite the suspension, the institute has still purchased more than 100 acres of land in Kansas City for future expansion, though they refused to tell the Kansas City Star newspaper the location. Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Matt Bartle, a leading opponent of embryonic research and cloning in the state legislature, said he was not surprised by Stower’s decision and said the institute misled voters last year saying it would expand its facility and bring in hundreds of jobs. [10July07, Kansas City, LifeNews.com] 
 
 

DELAWARE DEFEATS EMBRYO-DESTRUCTIVE STEM CELL RESEARCH BILL. The General Assembly overwhelmingly defeated Senate Bill 5, which would have authorized the use of human embryos in medical experimentation. The victory came despite intense lobbying fro

m aides to Congressman Mike Castle, who has been leading the fight in Congress to make taxpayers fund embryonic stem cell research. S5, similar to the federal funding bill Castle sponsored, was defeated by a margin of 4 to 1. SB 5 was defeated because state representatives heard from tens of thousands of Delawareans who are against embryo-destructive research. "The 4-to-1 defeat of SB 5 proves that, despite the polls, when Americans realize that embryonic stem cell research requires killing human embryos, they are overwhelmingly against it," Barrosse said. "We are proud that our General Assembly recognized the scientific reality that embryonic stem cell research is no longer necessary." The 30-7 vote came in the closing hours before Delaware's General Assembly shut down for the year. Dr. McCrossan, a physician, said the bill was unnecessary. "The exciting news this month that skin cells have been reprogrammed to their embryonic state, without the need for human cloning or embryo destruction, makes Senate Bill 5 simply unnecessary," he said. Stephen E. Jenkins, Esq. said he hopes the lopsided victory means the Delaware legislature will move away from making taxpayers fund research that destroys human life. "After seven hearings on human embryonic stem cell research, our representatives weighed the issue carefully, listened to their constituents, and voted their consciences," he said. "People want cures-but not at the price that embryonic stem cell research requires." [10July07, Dover, LifeNews.com]