Stem Cell - Archive

July – April 2011: Stem Cell Research

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NEW! Adult Stem Cells Helping Patients With Scleroderma Skin Disease

NEW! Adult Stem Cell Trial in Texas Will Treat Stroke Patients

Adult Stem Cell Success: Cells Relieve Heart Pain in Patients

Adult Stem Cells Help Create New Windpipe, Save Cancer Patient

Scientists Grow Human Heart in Lab Using Adult Stem Cells

Early Trial Shows Adult Stem Cells Healing Hearts

SKIN: National Geographic Program Shows Skin Gun Sprays Healing Adult Stem Cells

Girl Cured of Brain Cancer Using Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

Success: Human Neurons From Adult Skin Cells

Good News and Bad News for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Immediate Success: Adult Stem Cells are Treating Thousands of Patients Now

Ethical Stem Cell Research…

Adult Stem Cells Helping Patients With Scleroderma Skin Disease
Dr. Richard Burt and colleagues at Northwestern University have just published a new study in The Lancet that provides more evidence for the success of adult stem cell transplant in treating system sclerosis (scleroderma).

The autoimmune disease causes rigidity in the skin and organs, including lungs, of its victims; it exerts its fatal influence by essentially turning them to stone.

Ten patients were treated with their own adult stem cells, and all improved at or before 12 months after treatment, compared with zero of the nine patients that received cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapeutic agent considered the “standard of care” for this disease. None of the adult stem cell-treated patients had their disease worsen, while 8 of the 9 chemo-treated patients showed worsening, and eventually 7 of the chemo patients switched to the adult stem cell treatment.

The researchers note that the adult stem cell treatment improves skin and lung function in these patients for up to 2 years (the length of the current study) and is preferable to the current standard of care.

The new report is accompanied by a commentary by Farge and Gluckman that says the Burt et al. study provides “the best data to date for transplantation in scleroderma”, and “Despite the small number of patients and short follow-up of ASSIST, the findings of this trial are important for patients with systemic sclerosis, the medical community, and policy makers.”

Dr. Burt is featured in a recently-released video discussing his ideas for use of adult stem cells to treat patients with autoimmune diseases. Burt and his team are using this technique to help treat patients suffering from some 23 different diseases, and the techniques he has developed are now being used in treatment centers around the globe.

Adult stem cells are helping patients now.
[David Prentice, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 7/20/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/07/20/adult-stem-cells-helping-patients-with-scleroderma-skin-disease/]

 

 

 

Adult Stem Cell Trial in Texas Will Treat Stroke Patients
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston have enrolled their first patient in a trial to use adult stem cells to treat stroke up to 19 days after the stroke occurred. Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States.

The stroke patient was treated June 8 at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center after suffering a stroke May 23, by Dr. Sean Savitz of the UT Medical School. According to Dr. Savitz:

    “This represents a new approach using stem cells for stroke. A major question in the field of stem cell research is whether we can extend the time window for administering stem cells. A longer window increases the number of patients that might be helped.”

Savitz is one of the investigators in the FDA-approved Phase II study. The study will investigate use of ALD-401, a therapy developed by the company Aldagen that uses a patient’s own bone marrow adult stem cells. The trial is a double-blind study.

This new trial proposes using the adult stem cell treatment up to 19 days after the stroke event. Dr. Savitz is also currently involved in another trial that treats stroke patients with their own adult stem cells, but injects the cells within the first 3 days after the stroke. Early results from this patient trial are very encouraging. Other studies have indicated that adult stem cells can have a positive effect long after the stroke occurs.
[David Prentice, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 7/18/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/07/18/adult-stem-cell-trial-in-texas-will-treat-stroke-patients/]

 

 

 

 

Adult Stem Cell Success: Cells Relieve Heart Pain in Patients
Doctors at Northwestern University have shown that adult stem cells can relieve angina pain in heart patients.

About 850,000 U.S. heart patients have angina–chest pain caused by blocked coronary arteries–that persists despite available treatments.

The study examined 167 patients with refractory angina; patients received either a low or high dose of their own adult stem cells injected into their damaged heart muscle, or a placebo injection.

The results, published in the journal Circulation Research, showed that patients who received their adult stem cells experienced significant improvements in angina frequency and exercise tolerance. Dr. Douglas Losordo, lead author on the study, says the improvements in the patients treated with adult stem cells were life altering for many patients. Dr. Losordo also noted:

    “To put it in human terms, patients who might have been able to sit and watch TV without symptoms could now walk at a normal pace without chest pain, and someone who could walk at a slow pace might be able to ride a bike.”

    “Early research across multiple disease categories suggests that stem cells generated within the body in adults may have a therapeutic benefit. This is the first controlled trial treating chronic myocardial ischemia patients with
their own stem cells to achieve significant reduction in angina frequency and improvement in exercise tolerance.”

    “There is an emerging notion that our bodies — even the bodies of patients with significant disease — contain this natural biology that can heal. We are just beginning to understand and exploit this pre-installed mechanism for self-repair.”

In smaller previous studies reported in 2010, scientists in Florida and Brazil had found that adult stem cells injected directly into the heart could relieve angina in patients, and a Spanish group had also shown some improvement in angina patients’ symptoms.

Previous research has also show the ability of adult stem cells to shrink enlarged hearts and also long-term evidence that adult stem cells can treat chronic heart failure.
[David Prentice, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 7/11/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/07/11/adult-stem-cell-success-cells-relieve-heart-pain-in-patients/ ]

 

 

 

 

Adult Stem Cells Help Create New Windpipe, Save Cancer Patient

A cancer patient has received the first synthetic windpipe transplant. The new windpipe was created using the patient’s own adult stem cells which were seeded onto a synthetic scaffold to grow the new tissue.

According to his doctors, the patient, a 36-year-old Eritrean man and father of two, no longer has cancer and is expected to have a normal life expectancy.

Professor Paolo Macchiarini, of Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institute, led the team that performed the transplant operation on 9 June 2011 at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Stockholm.

Professor Macchiarini also led the international team that developed the artificial windpipe, which included Professor Alexander Seifalian from the University College London, UK, who designed and built the nanocomposite tracheal scaffold, and Harvard Bioscience, a Boston, USA company that produced a specifically designed bioreactor used to seed the scaffold with the patient´s own adult stem cells from bone marrow.

According to the Karolinska institute:

“Because the cells used to regenerate the trachea were the patient’s own, there has been no rejection of the transplant and the patient is not taking (anti-rejection) drugs.”

Creating a new windpipe using the patient’s own adult stem cells and a synthetic scaffold is a tremendous breakthrough, allowing production of tubular organs for transplant within a short period of time. As Prof. Macchiarini noted:

“It makes all the difference. If the patient has a malignant tumor in the windpipe, you can’t wait months for a donor to come along.”

Dr. Macchiarini said he planned to use the same windpipe-transplant technique on three more patients, two from the U.S. and a nine-month-old child from North Korea who was born without a trachea.

Prof. Macchiarini and his team have previously used a similar technique to transplant new windpipes into throat cancer patients, as well as other patients who needed tracheal replacements due to various conditions. The team’s first such tracheal transplant was in 2008, for a young Colombian woman with a trachea damaged by tuberculosis.

In these previous cases, the patient’s adult stem cells were seeded onto a scaffold made from cadaver windpipe which had all the cells removed. The seeded adult stem cells attached to the cartilage scaffold and created the new tissue for the transplant.

In this newest advance, a synthetic scaffold was used. The patient’s bone marrow adult stem cells were seeded onto this artificial scaffold where they attached and grew for two days prior to the transplant.

The growing trachea was then transplanted into the patient, where it continued to develop new tracheal tissue and functioned like a natural trachea. Imaging and other tests showed appropriate development of the new tissue. Using the patient’s own adult stem cells prevented any problems with transplant rejection.

Tissue-engineered organs have also been constructed for patients by other teams, including development of new urethras as well as the construction of functional bladders.

The research is not yet published. [several imbedded links in this article — visit link below]
[David Prentice, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 7/8/11,   http://www.lifenews.com/2011/07/08/adult-stem-cells-help-create-new-windpipe-save-cancer-patient/ ]

 

 

 

 

Scientists Grow Human Heart in Lab Using Adult Stem Cells

Scientists report that they are trying to grow live human hearts in the laboratory [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1372938/Live-human-heart-grown-lab-using-stem-cells-potential-transplant-breakthrough.html].

Dr. Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota presented her team’s latest work at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology over the weekend.

The team took human cadaveric hearts and removed all of the cells using a detergent solution, leaving behind the extracellular matrix or scaffold, composed primarily of collagen protein. Then they added adult stem cells from human patients; the adult stem cells bound to the heart protein scaffold and began to form cardiac cells, essentially growing heart muscle on the protein scaffold within a lab bioreactor.

According to Dr. Taylor:

    ‘The hearts are growing, and we hope they will show signs of beating within the next weeks. There are many hurdles to overcome to generate a fully functioning heart, but my prediction is that it may one day be possible to grow entire organs for transplant.”

Taylor’s team has previously shown the possibility of this procedure by creating beating rat hearts in the lab [http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080113/full/news.2008.435.html].

The work was published in 2008 in the journal Nature Medicine [http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v14/n2/full/nm1684.html], including video of the beating re-built heart [see http://www.lifenews.com/2011/04/04/scientists-grow-human-heart-in-lab-using-adult-stem-cells/ for this video link].

Using a patient’s own adult stem cells prevents problems of transplant rejection. The method of “seeding” a de-cellularized protein matrix to re-grow an organ has been used by others as well, including Dr. Paolo Macchiarini and colleagues, who have successfully grown and transplanted new windpipes for several patients [http://www.frcblog.com/2010/07/windpipes-made-with-adult-stem-cells-help-cancer-patients/].

Other researchers have shown success using a patient’s own adult stem cells to treat and even reverse heart damage [http://www.frcblog.com/2011/03/heart-damage-reversed-with-adult-stem-cells/].
Related Video:
How To Build a Beating Heart — http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/4828/Videos#tab-Videos/09347_00
[Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 4/4/11,  http://www.lifenews.com/2011/04/04/scientists-grow-human-heart-in-lab-using-adult-stem-cells/

 

 

 

Early Trial Shows Adult Stem Cells Healing Hearts
A new study shows that adult stem cells ma

y hold the key to healing cardiac injuries and reducing the need for heart transplant surgeries.

The results of a trial study of eight patients are recorded in Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association, and show that when adult stem cells were injected into enlarged hearts, they reduced heart volume, scar tissue, and revitalized damaged areas.

“The injections first improved function in the damaged area of the heart and then led to a reduction in the size of the heart. This was associated with a reduction in scar size. The effects lasted for a year after the injections, which was the full duration of the study,” said Joshua M. Hare, M.D., the study’s senior author.

Hare is professor of medicine and director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami in Florida.

Hare notes that more than five million Americans have hearts that become damaged and enlarged due to heart attacks, which can lead to further severe health complications or even death.

The scientist cautioned that while the early phases suggested the stem cell procedure could improve the lives of people with enlarged hearts by giving them better functioning hearts with more normal structure, more studies will be needed to prove that benefit.

Nevertheless, he said, “the findings support further clinical trials and give us hope that we can help people with enlarged hearts.”

The study suggests that patients may one day have options other than constant heart medication or even major invasive procedures such as heart transplantation.

Researchers injected two kinds of adult stem cells – mononuclear and mesenchymal – into the heart through a catheter.

Eight men (averaging 57 years old) with enlarged, damaged hearts participated in the study.

The study reports that after one year, the size of the heart decreased overall 15 – 20 percent.

The researchers say this is almost three times what is possible with current treatments.

Also, scar tissue diminished overall by 18.3 percent, and the targeted areas of the heart showed substantially improved function.

“This therapy improved even old cardiac injuries,” Hare said. “Some of the patients had damage to their hearts from heart attacks as long as 11 years before treatment.”

Adult stem cells have enjoyed great successes in pioneering new therapies and treatments for a variety of illnesses, expanding the limits of current medical frontiers.

In contrast, embryonic stem cells have presented a number of medical drawbacks – in addition to the major ethical issues of destroying an early-stage human embryo – for treatment of patients, including tumors and immune system rejection.

In a related recent success, the media in Spain reported in March that a four-year-old girl has been cured of a brain tumor thanks to a transplant of adult stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, which her parents had banked away at the child’s birth.

Now, 16 months after a stem cell treatment restored the child’s blood system, which was devastated by chemotherapy treatments, the girl remains cancer free. She will be certified as officially “cured” by doctors only after living a total of five years without a relapse.
[Mar 23, 2011, MIAMI, Florida, Peter Smith, LifeSiteNews.com,  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/early-trial-shows-adult-stem-cells-healing-hearts?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=47b37c79f3-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines03_23_2011&utm_medium=email

 

 

 

SKIN: National Geographic Program Shows Skin Gun Sprays Healing Adult Stem Cells

It's so amazing, you have to watch the video more than once and then check around the Internet for verification. One headline captured the claims this way: "Doctors have invented a revolutionary skin spray-gun that heals severe burns within days."

Although experimental, twelve burn victims have already been successfully treated with a "skin gun" that takes adult stem cells from a burn victim's own healthy skin and sprays it on to the damaged area. The skin gun was featured last night in a program called "How to Build a Beating Heart," which examines modern techniques of tissue engineering on the National Geographic Channel.

The buzz generated by what would be a revolutionary change in the way burn victims are treated came last week with a video excerpt from Tuesday's episode of National Geographic Channel's Explorer. It examines the work of Dr. Jörg C. Gerlach and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. It looks for all the world like a somewhat more sophisticated version of what you'd use to spray paint on your living room wall.

Gerlach tells National Geographic Channel that the process involves "isolating stem cells from a healthy patch of the patient's skin, putting those cells in a water solution, and then spraying the mixture back on," according to Stephen Adams. "After being sprayed, the patient's wound is covered with a special dressing that provides glucose, sugar, amino acids, antibiotics and electrolytes to the treated area, to provide nutrition and clean the wound until the stem cells get established." The whole process takes 90 minutes and burns have been reportedly healed in as few as four days.

The largest flaw of existing burns treatment is that the patient can die from infection in the time it takes to grow new layers of skin in the lab.

On the video excerpt, Dr Steven Wolf, of the US Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas, says, "If we can find a way to get normal healthy skin, as much of it as we want , within a week–that's the holy grail of burn surgery." [February 9, 2011, Dave Andrusko, http://www.nrlc.org/News_and_Views/Feb11/nv020911Part4.html]

 

 

 

 

Girl Cured of Brain Cancer Using Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

In the first transplant of umbilical cord stem cells in Spanish history, a four year old girl has been cured of a brain tumor, according to Spanish media sources.

Alba Martinez was born in the province of Cádiz in 2007 and despite her good health, her parents say they decided to provide her with “life insurance” by means of preserving her umbilical cord in cold storage, an option taken by only a handful of parents in Spain.

At 22 months, Martinez began to suffer from a brain tumor and needed several intensive rounds of chemotherapy, which destroyed her blood cells, requiring her to receive infusions of stem cells from her umbilical cord.  The availability of such a treatment in infants suffering from cancer is rare, due to the fact that in most cases the child suffers from leukemia, which originates in a genetic defect also found in the child’s stem cells.

Today, 16 months after her stem cells restored her blood system, Martinez remains cancer free. Doctors will be able to certify her as “cured” after living a total of five years without a relapse.

Her paren

ts say that the procedure is their “best investment” ever.

“Conserving the umbilical cord is betting on the future, a life insurance that you don’t know if you will need sometime, but that can save a life,” said Theresa Molina, the child’s mother.

The case adds to a growing number of successes using adult or umbilical cord stem cells in curing a variety of diseases.  In contrast with embryonic stem cell procedures, which destroy a human life in its earliest stages and which have never produced a single cure to date, adult or umbilical cord stem cell procedures are harmless to the donor and are proving to be a powerful weapon in the arsenal of modern medical treatments.

Related Stories
Umbilical Cord Blood Cell Therapy May Reduce Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease — http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/1980/32/8032706

Adult Stem Cells From Human Cord Umbilical Cord Blood Successfully Engineered to Make Insulin
http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/1970/52/7052809

[10 Mar 2011, Hoffman, CÓRDOBA, Spain, March 9, 2011, LifeSiteNews.com,  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/girl-cured-of-brain-cancer-using-umbilical-cord-stem-cells?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3427bdcec9-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines03_10_2011&utm_medium=email

 

 

 

Success: Human Neurons From Adult Skin Cells
Scientists at Stanford report that they can turn human skin cells directly into functioning nerve cells in the lab dish. The process does not involve an intermediate step of forming a stem cell, but directly converts skin cells into neurons.

Last year this group showed that they could accomplish this direct conversion with mouse cells. The new results, reported in the journal Nature, accomplish this conversion for the first time with human cells by adding four genes to the skin cells. Other researchers have obtained similar direct conversion results in the formation of blood, heart, and insulin-secreting cells.

The direct conversion technique is similar in some respects to the method used to create induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), in which genes are added to normal cells to convert them to stem cells that behave similarly to embryonic stem cells.

But pluripotent stem cells such as embryonic stem cells also have a significant risk of tumor formation. This out-of-control growth problem with pluripotent stem cells makes the direct conversion technique preferable when it comes to deriving new cells from normal cells. Likewise, using native adult stem cells is both safer and effective, e.g., in repair of stroke damage. [many imbedded links — click LifeNews link below]   [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vnfv/ncurrent/full/nature10202.html, David Prentice, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/27/11 , http://www.lifenews.com/2011/05/27/success-human-neurons-from-adult-skin-cells/]

Somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell fusion, or expression of lineage-specific factors have been shown to induce cell-fate changes in diverse somatic cell types1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. We recently observed that forced expression of a combination of three transcription factors, Brn2 (also known as Pou3f2), Ascl1 and Myt1l, can efficiently convert mouse fibroblasts into functional induced neuronal (iN) cells13. Here we show that the same three factors can generate functional neurons from human pluripotent stem cells as early as 6 days after transgene activation. When combined with the basic helix–loop–helix transcription factor NeuroD1, these factors could also convert fetal and postnatal human fibroblasts into iN cells showing typical neuronal morphologies and expressing multiple neuronal markers, even after downregulation of the exogenous transcription factors.

Importantly, the vast majority of human iN cells were able to generate action potentials and many matured to receive synaptic contacts when co-cultured with primary mouse cortical neurons.

Our data demonstrate that non-neural human somatic cells, as well as pluripotent stem cells, can be converted directly into neurons by lineage-determining transcription factors. These methods may facilitate robust generation of patient-specific human neurons for in vitro disease modelling or future applications in regenerative medicine. Induction of human neuronal cells by defined transcription factors
[Nature    doi:10.1038/nature10202, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vnfv/ncurrent/full/nature10202.html, Published online 26 May 2011]

Good News and Bad News for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) are adult cells that have been reprogrammed back to an embryonic-like (pluripotent) state without creating or destroying embryos.

Prolifers have been pointing to iPS cells since they were created as an alternative to destroying embryos for embryonic stem cells. Unlike embryonic stem cells that come from an embryo that is genetically different, iPS cells would be better for transplant because they would already be a genetic match to the patient. iPS cells are also an alternative to cloning embryos for stem cells. The only reason to clone an embryo to harvest stem cells would be to get embryonic stem cells that are a genetic match to the patient. iPS technology achieves the same result as cloning without any eggs and without cloning and destroying human embryos.

First the good news on iPS cells. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that iPS derived liver cells behave just as well as liver cells derived from embryonic stem cells and other adult stem cells in a mouse model. From Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News:

Researchers have demonstrated that mature and immature liver cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from multiple adult cell types are as effective as both embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived hepatocytes and primary human hepatocytes at engrafting and functioning in the livers of experimental mice. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine team that carried out the studies say iPSC-derived cells were equivalent to the ESC-derived cells and primary hepatocytes in terms of their capacity to regenerate damaged livers and with respect to the levels of human-specific liver proteins they secreted into the animals’ bloodstreams.

But another study has some bad news. IPS cells are created by reprogramming an adult cell back to an embryonic state. Researchers at UC San Diego have found that the reprogramming of the cells caused rejection in the immune system of the mice they studied even though the iPS cells were genetically identical. From the New York Times:

In an unexpected setback to efforts to harness a promising new type of stem cell to treat diseases, researchers reported on Friday that tissues made from those stem cells might be rejected by a patient’s immune system — even though the tissues would be derived from that very same patient.

The research involved so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, which can be made from skin cells and which appear to have the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. That means they can theoretically be turned into nerve, heart, liver or other types of cells and transplanted to repair damaged organs.

The initial creation of human iPS cells in 2007 electrified scientists because the cells seemed to have two big advantages over embryonic stem cells. They were not controversial, because their creation did not entail the destruction of human embryos

. And since the stem cells could be made from a particular patient’s skin cells, they could be used to make tissues that presumably would not be rejected by that patient’s immune system.

But that latter assumption was never really tested, until now. When Yang Xu, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues did so, they found that iPS cells made from mouse skin cells were nonetheless rejected by genetically identical mice.

Of course the BAD news about iPS cells made the New York Times and the GOOD news was left to the technical media outlet that has less readers. That observation aside, this is not great news not because the iPS cells were rejected so much as it will be a rallying cry for those who want to continue destroying existing IVF embryos for stem cells and for those who want to clone and destroy new embryos. They will argue that this rejection problem is a reason to push embryo destructive avenues again.

This is a ridiculous notion. If genetically identical stem cells were rejected just because of some reprogramming, certainly embryonic stem cells from a totally different organism will also be rejected and even more so. Robert Lanza, cloner extraordinaire, from Advanced Cell Technology is already saying that this opens the need for SCNT or cloning again. This is also nonsense because SCNT does not really create genetically identical embryos. Because SCNT uses eggs, there is DNA leftover from the woman who donated the eggs. And if genetically identical iPS cells were rejected just because of some reprogramming, certainly cloned embryonic stem cells that have DNA leftover from the woman who supplied the egg will have a greater chance of being rejected as well.

LifeNews.com Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology who 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 | 5/29/11  http://www.lifenews.com/2011/05/29/good-news-and-bad-news-for-induced-pluripotent-stem-cells/]

Immediate Success: Adult Stem Cells are Treating Thousands of Patients Now

Stem cell research continues to move ahead. Not embryonic stem cell research, however, which relies on the destruction of young human life.

After over 30 years of embryonic stem cell research, first with mouse and then human embryonic stem cells, not a single patient has been helped. And while over the past year, three experimental trials have been approved in the U.S., even many embryonic stem cell scientists believe the practical dangers of embryonic stem cells (tumors, incorrect tissue growth, immune problems) make such trials preliminary; simply using patients for experiments. Embryonic stem cells fail on both ethical and practical aspects, and have contributed only hype to the debate and false hope to patients.

Adult stem cells are both successful and ethical. They can be isolated and used without harming the stem cell donor. They can be taken from a host of tissues—bone marrow, muscle, fat, umbilical cord blood—and already have proven success at saving lives and improving health on a daily basis. Over 50,000 people around the globe are treated each year with adult stem cells. The diseases and conditions successfully treated by adult stem cells, as shown by published scientific evidence, continue to expand, with published success for numerous cancers, spinal cord injury, heart damage, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell anemia, and many others.

Here are just a few examples of adult stem cell advances over the past year.

* Several studies now document that adult stem cells can stimulate repair of damaged heart tissue, including damage from heart attack as well as chronic heart failure.

For example, scientists at the University of Miami reported that they had reversed heart damage in a small group of patients with the patients’ own bone marrow adult stem cells, reducing scar tissue and improving function to injured heart areas, up to eleven years after initial heart damage. And doctors in Germany published evidence from a large study showing that patients treated with adult stem cells for chronic heart failure showed a significant improvement in heart function and a significant decrease in long-term mortality, with no side effects. In another example, doctors in Brazil and Florida found that adult stem cells injected directly into the heart could relieve angina.

* Italian doctors reported that they could successfully treat corneal blindness using the patient’s own adult stem cells. They treated 112 patients who had been blinded by chemical burns. Over 77% of patients recovered normal vision. Patients with superficial damage were able to see within one to two months, while more extensive injuries took several months longer to recover. One of the successful transplants was a man who had been blind for 50 years. The doctors grafted adult stem cells from a small section of his left eye to both eyes. His vision is now close to normal.

* Multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment with adult stem cells also showed multiple positive results over the past year. A team of scientists from Thessaloniki, Greece, showed that chemotherapy followed by adult stem cell transplant can stop progression of aggressive MS. The team observed a group of 35 patients who received transplants of their own bone marrow adult stem cells after being treated with chemotherapy to wipe out the rogue immune cells that were attacking their nervous system and causing their MS. An average of 11 years after their transplants, 25% of the patients in Greece have not seen their disease progress. And a U.K. team led by Dr. Neil Scolding showed that a simple intravenous infusion of the patient’s adult stem cells, without using chemotherapy, could work to improve MS patient symptoms.

The groundbreaking report of the first six patients found that the simple treatment stabilized the patients’ conditions and improved their nervous systems. The whole procedure, from extracting the bone marrow adult stem cells to re-infusing them into the bloodstream, was accomplished in a few hours at the hospital, and the patients were then followed for one year to observe the positive benefits.

* Scientists used donor adult stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood to successfully treat children with a fatal genetic skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), that causes skin to blister and scrape off with the slightest friction and chronic pain; the slightest touch or hug hurts them. All 10 children treated so far have responded positively, easing their conditions. According to the doctors who treated the children, “Bone marrow [adult stem cell] transplantation is one of the riskiest procedures in medicine, yet it is also one of the most successful. Patients who otherwise would have died from their disease can often now be cured. It’s a serious treatment for a serious disease.”

* Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston published preliminary results of a Phase I clinical trial showing the safety of bone marrow adult stem cells in treating traumatic brain injury in children. A total of ten children from 5-14 years old were treated within 48 hours of their injury with their own adult stem cells; the cells were collected from their bone marrow, processed and returned to them intravenously. Six months after their adult stem cell treatment, all of t

he children showed significant improvement. The team is also testing use of umbilical cord blood, another type of adult stem cell, for these treatments.

While many adult stem cell treatments are still experimental, the results continue to flow for thousands of patients a year, and many new applications are being developed. This makes it all the more important that we direct our health care resources toward the proven, ethical, and successful solution—adult stem cells.

For a visual sample, see the three patient videos at www.stemcellresearchfacts.org
[David Prentice, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/17/11, http://www.lifenews.com/2011/05/17/adult-stem-cells-are-treating-thousands-of-patients-now/]

 

 

Ethical Stem Cell Research
These articles are available at the Wiley Online Library, May 2011, vol. 29, issue 5, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/stem.v29.5/issuetoc

Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Reprogram Adult Cardiomyocytes Toward a Progenitor-Like State Through Partial Cell Fusion and Mitochondria Transfer (pages 812–824)
Adrien Acquistapace, Thierry Bru, Pierre-François Lesault, Florence Figeac, Amélie E. Coudert, Olivier le Coz, Christo Christov, Xavier Baudin, Fréderic Auber, René Yiou, Jean-Luc Dubois-Randé and Anne-Marie Rodriguez
Article first published online: 19 APR 2011 |
DOI: 10.1002/stem.632

Human Induced Pluripotent Stem-Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) Cells Exhibit Ion Transport, Membrane Potential, Polarized Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Secretion, and Gene Expression Pattern Similar to Native RPE (pages 825–835)
Maria Kokkinaki, Niaz Sahibzada and Nady Golestaneh
Article first published online: 19 APR 2011
DOI: 10.1002/stem.635 —  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/stem.635/abstract

Combined Characterization of microRNA and mRNA Profiles Delineates Early Differentiation Pathways of CD133+ and CD34+ Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells (pages 847–857)
Ute Bissels, Stefan Wild, Stefan Tomiuk, Markus Hafner, Hartmut Scheel, Aleksandra Mihailovic, Yeong-Hoon Choi, Thomas Tuschl and Andreas Bosio
Article first published online: 19 APR 2011
DOI: 10.1002/stem.627
[http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/stem.v29.5/issuetoc, Wiley Online Library, www.wiley.com]