Stem Cell - Archive

July – June 2008: Stem Cell Research

NEW! Auto-Immune Adult Stem Cell Success Stories 2008 Update

NEW! Bone-Healing Adult Stem Cell Success Stories 2008 Update

NEW! Sickle Cell Disease Adult Stem Cell Success Stories 2008 Update

Breakthrough: Sticks and Stones May Break Bones, but Study Shows Adult Stem Cells Can Heal Them

Researchers to Test Use of Stem Cells to Treat Crohn's Disease

Child's Own Stem Cells Restore His Sight

Adult Stem Cell Research Shows Gains in Treating Lou Gehrig's Disease

FDA Delays Company's Bid for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Trials

World's First Cloned Horse Gives Birth to Supposedly Healthy Foal

NEW! Ethical Creation of Embryonic-Like Stem Cells Sees Another Breakthrough

Britain May OK Scientists' Human Cloning Using Patients' Cells But Without Their Consent

New Jersey Pulls Back on Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

NEW! Thousands of "Tourists" Desperate for Unproven "Cures" From Stem Cells of Destroyed Human Embryos

Capitol Hill Briefing by Patients and the Doctor who Treated Them on the Therapeutic Benefits Already Being Realized with Adult Stem Cell Treatments

NEW! Adult Stem Cell Findings Offer New Hope For Parkinson's Cure

NEW! The Aging Brain Helped By Injection Of Human Umbilical Cord Blood

More Than One Kind Of Adult Stem Cell In Guts

Blood Stem Cells Originate in the Placenta

NEW! Scientists Say Animal Parts and Organs To Be Used in Humans…

AUTO-IMMUNE ADULT STEM CELL SUCCESS STORIES 2008 UPDATE: JANUARY-JUNE

by William L. Saunders, Jr., David Prentice, Simona Beskova, and Martin Kolesar[1] For the entire article, visit…
http://www.frc.org/insight/adult-stem-cell-sucess-stories-2008-jan-june

We are pleased to present FRC's June update on advances in human treatments and research with adult stem cells.  This is the third report. 

The prior ones were "Adult Stem Cell Success Stories – 2006" [http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS06H01] and "Adult Stem Cell Success Stories-2007 Update".[http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS07L01]  

Every six months, we will present new cases of people being helped by adult stem cells, which are abundant throughout the human body and whose use does not pose the ethical dilemmas encountered with embryonic stem cell research. 

Adult stem cells are already being used to treat over 73 different conditions and are the subject of over 1400 FDA approved trials. 

We invite you to read about real people being helped by adult stem cell research.

AUTO-IMMUNE DISORDERS. Jill Rosen was diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome, a form of lupus and an autoimmune disorder causing blood clots, in 1997. Her health was gradually deteriorating. Between 2002 and 2004 she was in hospital every two months, was not responding to treatments and was exhausted. She contacted Dr. Richard Burt from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who was working on a new treatment involving stem cell transplants for auto immune disorders.

In February 2005 she began chemotherapy, and a month later her own stem cells were replanted into her body. She was released from the hospital after 3 weeks. For several months she did not experience any notable improvement. However, in 2006, her conditions improved dramatically. Follow ups from 2006 through 2008 confirmed drastic improvements.

Jill says that her family and friends all celebrate her new birthday on March 7, 2005 , the day her own adult stem cells were transplanted back into her body.[4]

Amy Daniels is another successfully treated patient of Dr. Burt. In October 2004 she was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that affects connective tissue in the body, the tissue that supports skin, and internal organs.

The disease causes organs to grow hard and thick.

Amy's case of scleroderma caused her skin to become very tight. She could not bend her head backwards; she could not make a fist or cross her fingers; her teeth were getting loose and she had trouble closing her mouth. Finally the illness attacked her lungs, decreasing their capacity from over 90 percent to 43 percent.

She contacted Dr. Burt and was accepted for treatment.  Amy was given chemotherapy and immunosuppressants to eliminate her malfunctioning immune system. In April 2007 her own stem cells were reinfused to her body to rebuild her immune system. After 6 months she returned to work, her skin returned to normal, and her lung capacity increased to 57 percent. Amy confirms the dramatic improvements: "I can lift my arms over my head and drop my head back without any discomfort….
I can open my mouth wide enough to yell at my children…. I can go up a flight of stairs. I can chase my kids around the park."[5]

Barry Goudy is also Dr. Burt's patient. All three patients presented their stories at an event hosted in the U.S. Capitol Building in March 2008 in the presence of Dr. Burt.

Barry Goudy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in May 1995. Over the years the treatment became less effective.

In 2003, Barry was accepted into Dr. Burt's study and received his adult stem cell transplant in July. After 4 months he was able to get back to work symptom free. In 2008, he will celebrate five years of being free of multiple sclerosis symptoms. "I look forward to continuing to live an active, productive MS-free lifestyle that includes my work as well as playing racquetball, golf and coaching hockey," affirms Barry.[6]

In February 2008, Dr. Burt authored a review of previously published reports of clinical applications using adult stem cells in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), a highly cited weekly medical journal. After examination of more than 300 reports involving thousands of patients, Dr. Burt and his team validated that "[s]tem cells harvested from blood or marrow… under appropriate conditions in select patients, provide disease-ameliorating effects in some autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular disorders."[7]

In patients with multiple sclerosis, immunosuppressive therapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation elicited high response rates and improved quality of life for up to 6 years. The results of the study were presented at the 18th Meeting of the European Neurological Society in Nice , France. 

Tatiana Ionova, MD, PhD, of the Department of Hematology, Pirogov National Medical Surgical Center in Moscow , Russia reported that during the last decade 56 patients with all types of multiple sclerosis (primary progressive, secondary progressive, progressive relapsing, relapsing remitting) were studied.

Out of the 26 patients included in the quality-of-life analysis, 24 exhibited a response and preserved a good quality of life during the follow-up.

No unexpected treatment-related adverse events were observed. According to Dr. Ionova, immunosuppressive therapy plus autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation appears to be a safe and effective therapy for multiple sclerosis.[8]
For the remainder of the lengthy and exciting article, visit…
http://www.frc.org/insight/adult-stem-cell-sucess-stories-2008-jan-june

ADULT SICKLE CELL DISEASE. Pamela Newton suffered from sickle-cell disease since she was a baby. Fifteen months ago, the pain from Newton's sickle cell disease was excruciating. She spent more time in the hospital than in her apartment, and was on 15 pain pills a day, all heavy narcotics.

She was bleeding regularly and needed daily transfusions of platelets.

Today, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital say that Newton is one of the first adults in the world to be cured of sickle cell disease-and the first using an experimental bone marrow transplant.

It was two months after the transplant in December 2006 before Newton started to feel better. Slowly, the pain dissipated.  Newton is planning for the future for the first time. Feeling a call to the ministry, she plans to enroll in Bible college in June 2008.

What makes the Hopkins procedure different is that it allows patients to receive bone marrow from a donor who is not an exact match-a longtime obstacle to healing large numbers of people. [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/health/bal-te.sickle30mar30,0,6112155.story?page=1]
For the entire lengthy and exciting article, visit…
http://www.frc.org/insight/adult-stem-cell-sucess-stories-2008-jan-june

 

 

 BONE-HEALING. When Dr. Scott Spann's daughter, who is the captain of the University of Texas swim team, suffered a serious shoulder injury, Dr. Spann, of Westlake Orthopedics Spine and Sports, said that the two of them decided to use adult stem cell therapy. 

She is now preparing to compete at the U.S. Olympic trials.[39]  

In April 2008, the U.S. government awarded an $85 million grant to establish the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The institute will offer treatments using the procedure described above to soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan , to provide hope to wounded veterans who would be otherwise unable to return to work or even walk.[40]

Mesoblast , a biotechnology company based in Melbourne , Australia , conducted a clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell transplants. Ten patients with non-healing, long bone fractures of legs received various doses of stem cells and had been followed up for at least six months after the implantation.[41]

In seven of the ten patients, the long bone fractures unified and they were able to lead a normal life with healed legs. The remaining three patients show continuous new bone formation.

Prior to the therapy, none of the patients had shown any evidence of bone formation for at least 5 and up to 41 months. The study showed that the higher the dose of infused stem cells, the less time is needed for a bone to heal.[42]
For the remainder of the lengthy and exciting article, visit…
http://www.frc.org/insight/adult-stem-cell-sucess-stories-2008-jan-june

 

 

ADULT STEM CELLS USED TO HEAL BROKEN BONES. Scientists have continued to expand the horizons for adult stem-cell therapies, with new research revealing the latest stem-cell breakthrough for people whose broken bones fail to heal, especially sufferers of osteoporosis.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have unveiled research that shows transplantation of adult stem cells to the site of a fracture can improve vastly the healing of broken bones and give real hope to those who suffer from them.

"This finding is critical to patients who lack the proper healing process and to individuals prone to broken bones, such as those with osteoporosis and the rare genetic condition known as brittle bone disease," said Dr. Anna Spagnoli, an associate professor of pediatrics and biomedical engineering in the UNC School of Medicine and senior author of the UNC study.

The study reveals that normally in the course of healing a fracture, a person's stem cells migrate to the site of the break, where they form the cartilage and bone that will knit the broken bones back together. However, more than 600,000 Americans every year suffer from fractures that do not heal according to this process, meaning these bones stay broken, and can cause severe pain, bone deformities, and even death.

"Man-made materials do not address the normal bone's function, and recurrent fractures, wear and toxicity are a real problem," Spagn

oli said. "There is clearly a need to develop alternative therapies to enhance fracture healing in patients with bone union failure."

In order to discover the healing potential of adult stem-cells, scientists transplanted adult stem-cells taken from the bone marrow of mice that produce luciferase, the molecule that allows fireflies to glow in the dark.

The researchers had also engineered the stem-cells to express a molecule called "insulin-like growth factor 1" (IGF-1). IGF-1 helps bones to grow in size and strength.

The UNC researchers transplanted the stem-cells into mice that had fractures of the tibia with an intravenous injection and then put the mice in a dark box where they could watch the glowing stem-cells traveling within them. The stem-cells were attracted to the fracture site, where a molecule called CXCR4 acted as a homing beacon that was necessary for the cells' migration.

A CAT scan showed the stem-cells improved healing at the fracture site by increasing the bone and cartilage between the bone gaps. The bone in the treated mice was about three times stronger than that of untreated mice, whose bones were permitted to heal naturally.

"The beauty of regenerative medicine is that we are helping the body improve its innate ability to regenerate healthy tissue on its own, rather than introducing manmade materials to try to patch up a broken bone," Spagnoli said.

Spagnoli added that the team chose adult stem-cells over the unethical embryonic stem-cells, because adult stem-cells are present in all tissues of the body and are easier to manipulate. In this case, the team chose stem-cells from bone marrow since the procedure to gain such cells was minimally invasive and needed the easiest method.

Doctors would need only a teaspoon of bone marrow from a patient to obtain what scientists call mesenchymal stem cells, which have the potential to turn into bone, cartilage, fat, muscle and blood vessel cells. The patient's own stem-cells would not face immune rejection from the body – another strike against embryonic stem-cells, which are known to cause tumors.

The researchers say further trials on animal models will be necessary before their research can developed into a safe and effective therapy in human patients.

The study was presented Monday at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in San Francisco by the first author, Froilan Granero-Molto, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate researcher in UNC's pediatrics department.

Other co-authors of the study include Dr. Lara Longobardi, UNC assistant professor of pediatrics, along with the following researchers from Vanderbilt University: Dr. Michael Miga, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Dr. Jared A. Weis, postgraduate fellow in biomedical engineering; Benjamin Landis, medical student; and Lynda O'Rear, research specialist.

Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health.

The research from the US scientists is the latest success in the field of adult stem-cell research, following closely a study released earlier in June by Australian researchers that showed promise for sufferers of Parkinson's disease. Scientists with Griffith University used a technique to obtain adult stem-cells from the nose that successfully developed into dopamine-producing brain cells – giving the search for a cure for Parkinson's more real hope than ever.

See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:

Scientists Say Cure for Parkinson's Disease Right under Their Noses
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jun/08061206.html

Skeptical Stem Cell Researcher Admits New Adult Stem Cell Findings Are Hopeful
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/jan/07011705.html

Australian Research Team Finds Stem Cell Gold in the Nose
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/mar/05032208.html

Spinal Cord Injuries Improved Years Later with Patients' Own Olfactory Cells
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/jul/06072104.html

Adult Stem Cell Research: True Potential Sacrificed for Other Possibilities Says Biotech Writer
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/jun/06061311.html

Embryonic Stem Cell Therapies to Cure Disease is "Pure Folly", Says MIT Prof
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/dec/05121209.html

Success Stories with Adult Stem Cells Coming in Almost Too Fast to Track
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/jan/05012007.html

UK Researcher: Cord Blood Real Potential for Cures, Not Embryonic Stem Cells – Part 1
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/aug/06081804.html

UK Researcher: Embryonic Stem Cells Have Never Been Used to Treat Anyone and no Plans Exist to do so
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/aug/06082401.html

Study: Human Embryonic Stem Cells May Cause Brain Tumors
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/oct/06102309.html
[18June08, P. J. Smith, Chapel Hill, NC, LifeSiteNews.com]

RESEARCHERS TO TEST STEM CELLS TO TREAT CROHN'S DISEASE. Stem cells may force Crohn's disease into retreat, say Long Island medical investigators who are embarking on a pioneering analysis that targets patients who've failed other therapies. Cases of Crohn's disease have skyrocketed since World War II, jumping tenfold in the United States and raising questions about the disease's genetics and demography. It is one of two disorders — the other is ulcerative colitis — that are known as inflammatory bowel diseases. Before the 20th century there was no recorded evidence of either. [http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hscrohn0617,0,718524.story
News Day; ALL Pro-Life Today, 18June08]

 

 

ADULT STEM CELLS RESTORE CHILD'S SIGHT. Two-year-old Elio Burgos, who was born blind, is now able to see, thanks to a series of adult stem-cell treatments. Elio was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, an underdeveloped optic nerve. His mother found a hospital in China that offered umbilical cord stem-cell treatments that could improve her son’s sight. The Florida family flew to China so Elio could undergo the treatments. Now, fewer than three months after his treatments — a series of cell injections consisting of 10 to 15 million healthy umbilical cord stem cells — Elio's eyesight has gone from 20/1200 to 20/200 and will hopefully continue to improve during the next seven months. "While there have been unethical and dangerous experiments done in China with destructive embryonic stem-cell research,” said Dawn Vargo, bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family Action, “it's nice to see that ethical treatments that can cure patients are finally getting some attention."
[http://www.citizenlink.org/CLBriefs/A000007430.cfm, CitizenLink; ALL Pro-Life Today, 19May08]

 

 

 

ADULT STEM CELL RESEACH SHOWS GAINS IN TREATING LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE (ALS). A new study shows more success for adult stem cells, an ethical and more effective means of stem cell research than embryonic. A unique pilot study has established a safe pathway for using bone-marrow stem cells to slow down and potentially treat Lou Gehrig's disease.

Also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the condition is a fatal neurodegenerative disease without cure.

Dr. Neil Cashman, professor of neurology at the University of British Columbia and dir

ector of the ALS program at Vancouver Coastal Health and VCH Research Institute, headed the study.

He published the results in the latest issue of the medical journal Muscle & Nerve.

In the study he and his colleagues tested the use of a growth factor stimulant in ALS patients and found that bone-marrow stem cells became activated with no adverse effects to patients.

“Our idea was to use a growth factor stimulant to increase the number of circulating stem cells from within the body’s bone marrow where they would have the potential to travel to the site of injury and begin repair, slowing down the progression of ALS,” says Cashman.

“This pathway, if one day successful, may provide a new therapy that will avoid the ethical debate surrounding embryonic stem cells,” he explained.

Growth factors are proteins that can stimulate cell division. They occur naturally in the human body and can also be developed in a laboratory.

Stem cells serve as a “repair system” in the human body and have the potential to develop and divide into many different cell types.

“The project was complex because growth factors have the potential to activate the wrong cells in the brain and spinal cord, which could be harmful to ALS patients," Cashman said.

“We were able to measure a prominent effect on stem cell mobilization and found no adverse effects in the patients,” said Cashman. “There have been many misgivings in using stem cell stimulators in ALS patients but now we know we can safely do this. This is an important first step in providing a new treatment for ALS.”

The research team is now developing a larger scale multicentre trial to look at therapeutic effect. This trial is at least one year away from beginning. [28May08, Ertelt, Vancouver, Canada, LifeNews.com; www.lifenews.com/bio2460.html]
 

 

 

 

 

FDA DELAYS BID FOR HUMAN EMBRYO-DESTRUCTIVE STEM CELL RESEARCH TRIALS. The Food and Drug Administration has delayed a request from a biotech company wanting to engage in human trials with embryonic stem cells. While adult stem cell research has already helped patients with dozens of diseases, embryonic stem cells have never been tried in humans.
 
That's because embryonic stem cells have significant problems when used in animals.
 
They tend to form tumors after the cells are injected as a treatment and immune systems reject the cells as foreign. Neither problem occurs with the use of adult stem cells.
 
FDA officials met with representatives of Geron Corp. and Advanced Cell Technology Inc. last month to discuss the possibilities. Both companies have been claiming for years they were ready to start human trials but pro-life advocates are concerned problems still remain.
 
Yet, both say they plan to start human trials this year and are requesting FDA approval to do so. Both claim to now have tumor-free experiments involving animals.
 
On Wednesday, the FDA notified Geron’s chief executive Thomas Okarma that the company cannot proceed and indicated a letter with more explanation about the decision is forthcoming.
 
The decision is likely only to delay the human trials rather than to stop them from proceeding eventually.
 
Okarma told the New York Times he is disappointed by the decision.
 
“We are disappointed with this action given the interactions we had with the F.D.A. over four years leading to the filing” of the request for human trials.
 
Wesley Smith, an attorney and bioethics watchdog, responded to the news.
 
"Geron Corporation has released a series of press releases over several years stating that 'next year' it would start the first human trials using ES cells. Apparently, that won't be happening yet," he said.
 
"Tumors are an important worry, as is efficacy. Meanwhile, those adult stem cell advances keep rolling in," he added.
 
After learning of the application for the embryonic stem cell research trials, Sen. Sam Brownback, a leading pro-life advocate, urged the FDA to reject the requests.
 
Brownback says there are moral issues involved and medical risks for patients.
 
Brownback said the embryonic stem cell trials could easily put patients at risk and pointed to "devastating patient results" with trials several years ago involving fetal tissue from babies victimized by abortion.
 
"The problem was the cells were too immature and tended to form tumors or grow in uncontrolled ways that could not be reversed in the humans who underwent experimentation," the senator explained.
 
"Human beings are not guinea pigs," he adding, calling any decision to allow the companies to proceed "irresponsible."
 
Brownback said human trials involving embryonic stem cell research are unnecessary given the enormous success scientists have had with adult stem cells.
 
“What makes this even more troubling is that there is a viable ethical alternative with adult stem cells," he said.
 
"They are currently being used in the treatment of well over 70 different diseases and conditions, including spinal cord injury, type-I diabetes, heart failure, and Parkinson’s disease as validated by peer-reviewed, published results." [16May08, Ertelt, www.LifeNews.com, DC]

 

WORLD'S FIRST CLONED HORSE GIVES BIRTH TO SUPPOSEDLY HEALTHY FOAL. The world's first cloned horse has given birth to a supposedly healthy foal, which makes the process seem successful even though animal cloning requires the destruction of hundreds of embryos in order to give birth to a single successful clone.

Prometea, cloned in 2003 by Italian professor Cesare Galli, gave birth to Pegasus six weeks ago, the London Daily Mail reported. Professor Galli said that both mare and foal were doing well and added that he planned to create other cloned horses for reproduction.

Galli said he hoped the birth would ease concerns about the health of cloned animals, sparked by the short lifespan of Dolly the sheep, who had to be euthanized because of severe health problems at the age of six. "Since she was born five years ago, Prometea has turned out to be an absolutely normal animal in excellent health," he said. Dolly was finally created after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the "successful" result, Dolly, aged too rapidly.

South Korean researchers who cloned wolves also had issues. The wolf cloning wasn't entirely successful as scientists had to transfer 251 wolf embryos into 12 potential surrogate mothers before achieving the birth of a cloned wolf. That high failure rate was also seen in cloning dogs.

To create the first cloned dog, Snuppy, the Seoul National University team killed a total of 1,095 reconstructed dog embryos and transferred them into 123 surrogates, yielding only Snuppy and another dog that died 22 days after birth. With the first cloned female dog, they killed 167 dog embryos and transferred them into 12 surrogate mothers to produce the three cloned dogs.
[5May08, Rome, Italy (LifeNews.com]

 

 

ETHICAL CREATION OF EMBRYONIC-LIKE STEM CELLS SEES ANOTHER BREAKTHROUGH. While controversial embryonic stem cells continue t

o be plagued by the same problems, scientists announced a big proof of principle in research with iPS cells. Those are the adult stem cells that researchers have been able to convert to an embryonic state without the destruction of human life.

Professor Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, along with scientists in Wisconsin, came up with the original reversal method. It required a virus to genetically alter adult cells and had inherent safety concerns.

Now, scientists at Scripps Research Institute in California and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Germany have been able to use drugs instead of viruses to turn brain cells from an adult back into embryonic-like stem cells.

Dr. Sheng Ding says the results show the scientists are "on the way" to making the embryonic-like stem cells without genetic modification.

"This shows that we can make cell reprogramming technology much more practical than it has been," Ding told the London Telegraph. "These advances will bring us closer to the day when we can use these powerful cells to make any kind of human tissue that we need to help patients."

The success means treatments could be developed sooner from the cells because cancer virus cells are not involved in their creation.

Wesley Smith, a leading American bioethicist, commented on the news and said the success drives home the point that human cloning is not needed to advance stem cell science.

"If stem cells for drug testing and therapies are the goal, human cloning is indeed redundant and should be banned," he said. "But don't hold your breath. In my view, stem cells were as much pretext as purpose behind the cloning drive. But at least now that will be exposed."

In February, Yamanaka announced his team found a way to grow the cells without inducing tumors. [6June08, Ertelt. LifeNews.com, DC]

 

 

 

BRITAIN MAY OK SCIENTISTS' HUMAN CLONING WITH PATIENTS' CELLS, WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. On the heels of a British parliament vote to allow scientists to engage in human cloning by creating hybrids with animal and human DNA, the government proposes going even further.

Officials have released new guidelines allowing scientists to use cells from dead people in human cloning efforts. Researchers hope to create cells to use in studies about various diseases, but pro-life advocates say the cloning process sets an unethical precedent.

Parliament already approved the hybrid cloning amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and this new cloning proposal will come in the form of another amendment to the measure.

Labour Party health ministers who are proposing the idea say scientists should be able to use stored human tissue from people who donated it as much as 30 years ago, even if they didn't give their consent for it to be used in cloning experiments.

If adopted, the new policy would change existing rules requiring the consent of donors to use their cells and would turn medical science on its ear by pursuing what pro-life advocates call a poor Machiavellian or utilitarian justification.

The amendment could be debated as early as this week. [3June08, www.LifeNews.com, London]

 

 

 

NJ STATE PULLS BACK ON STEM CELL FUNDING. Eight months after state officials broke ground on New Jersey's new center for [embryonic] stem cell research, the once-heralded $150 million project has quietly been put on indefinite hold.

Despite continuing assurances that the 18-story tower in New Brunswick would remain on track — even after voters rejected proposals last year to finance $450 million in stem cell science grants — state officials behind the scenes pulled back millions in construction funding for the research facility late last year. They now acknowledge they are re-evaluating the entire project.

Gov. Jon Corzine said the project is in limbo and could not offer a concrete timeline for getting it restarted.

"I'd like to have a director and I'd like to see what our options are on making sure that New Jersey continues to be the leader, or among the leaders on biotech research — particularly as it relates to stem cells," he said. "And then we'll work together on our rollout of what our plans are."

As of now, the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey is little more than a web page and scattered lab research in three existing locations.

Under the joint oversight of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University, UMDNJ officials say more than 50 faculty members from both universities are doing grant-funded stem cell research through the institute.

The site of the proposed research center itself, though, is just a gravel parking lot with a lone sign featuring a drawing of a building that now may never be built.

In October, Corzine and others put shovels in the dirt for a ceremonial groundbreaking of what was to be called the Christopher Reeve Pavilion. Surrounded by relatives of the late actor, who became a strong advocate of stem cell research after he was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident, Corzine predicted the new center would serve as a nexus of cutting edge science.

"To the future!" he proclaimed, turning a silver-colored spade in a boxed patch of loose dirt.

A few weeks later, though, the project was abruptly halted after the failure of a controversial ballot initiative to borrow nearly half a billion dollars to fund the actual research.

The statewide bond proposal — bloated by Trenton lawmakers to include money for four additional research centers in Camden, Newark, Belleville and Allendale — was unexpectedly turned down by voters. Many blamed the rejection on anger with the state's borrowing, fanned by a vigorous campaign by conservatives and religious leaders staunchly opposed to [embryo-destructive] stem cell research on moral grounds.

New Jersey has been pushing for years to become a center for [embryonic] stem cell research — even before Corzine made it a central plank in his campaign for governor in 2005.

Stem cells have the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body and scientists believe they hold the key for developing cures and treatments for now hopeless ailments like Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's. Economists for Rutgers University also say investment in such research would generate billions in economic activity.

[NOTE: Great progress is being made with adult stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells, and iPS cells, all of which are ethical and successful. Over 70 diseases are presently being treated with adult and umbilical cord cells. Meanwhile, the embryo-destructive stem cell research discussed in this article has so far yielded not even one successful treatment.]

A CHANGE IN PLANS
After the bond issue was rejected, senior administration officials said publicly that the New Brunswick research facility — which had already incurred more than $2.3 million in planning expenses — would proceed as planned, using money previously earmarked by the state.

The Legislature in 2006 had authorized the state to borrow up
to $270 million in construction costs for the five stem cell labs across the state. At the same time, NJ Transit continued planning work on a federally funded, $10 million platform extension to serve the new research tower.

With the failure of the bond issue, discussions were initiated within the administration to save the New Brunswick lab by shelving the other four research facilities that had been added by the Legislature under political pressure and using the $120 million earmarked for that construction to pay for the actual science, according to senior administration officials.

But last November, the administration pulled back a funding proposal before the state Economic Development Authority, which was ready to approve $3.7 million in preliminary expenditures for the Reeve Pavilion. EDA officials refused last week to discuss the issue, referring all calls to the governor's office.

Many officials, however, were unaware the project has been put on hold. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) referred to the "ongoing construction" of the stem cell research center in congressional hearings he chaired last month.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who has been pushing for federal transit aid for the site by convincing federal officials that the stem cell institute would yield hundreds of high-tech, well-paying jobs for Central Jersey, was surprised to learn the project was halted months ago. He said he would go back to federal officials and try to convince them to apply the money to another New Jersey project.

"The money just can't hang out there forever," Menendez said. "It's obviously a disappointment because it is exactly the type of entity we're trying to attract to New Jersey — high-end jobs with low impact on the state's services. And we want to be a center for research and development excellence."

Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right To Life and a prominent opponent of the stem cell labs, said voters "clearly spoke loud and clear last November" in voting down stem cell research funding and said the project should be abandoned. She said the initial construction funding for New Brunswick was done without ever going to the public.

"They put the cart before the horse. They assumed the people of New Jersey would support the research," she said. "At the time, it made no sense at all."

Tasy said they should use any money already appropriated to reduce the state debt.

Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), who has championed stem cell research funding long before he served as acting governor in 2004-05, conceded that the defeat of the bond issue last fall effectively killed construction of the institute, despite public statements to the contrary. Once the voters turned down the referendum, Corzine and his staff felt that proceeding with the institute would be perceived as a slap in the face, Codey said.

"It's unfortunate but it's obviously the governor's decision to make and, hopefully, it can get back on track," Codey said.

Asked whether the administration should have proceeded because the money had been approved by the Legislature, Codey said "that's a decision that he (Corzine) made. I respect it. I understand it. I'm not going to second-guess it. Am I disappointed? Sure. I want to save lives. Of course I'm disappointed, but not with him." [22 June08, Josh Margolin and Ted Sherman/The Star-Ledger http://www.nj.com/newark/index.ssf/2008/06/state_pulls_back_on_stem_cell.html]

 

 

 

 

THOUSANDS OF STEM CELL "TOURISTS" DESPERATE FOR MIRACLE CURE MADE FROM ABORTED BABIES: Stem cell tourism is the new million-dollar international trend of selling miracle cures made from aborted babies.

Parents are spending up to $75,000 to travel to China and other countries to seek unproven and untested cures for their children's so-far incurable conditions, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer in a July 13 exposé.

"This is just another example of the twisted mentality that embryonic stem cell advocates use to unscrupulously pit parents desperate to help their children against the countless babies murdered by abortion," said Judie Brown, president of American Life League.

"Those aborted children's lives were stolen only to be harvested for their parts and cells. It's cannibalism."

The Inquirer reports dozens of companies around the world are selling the promise of regenerative stem cell treatments over the internet. Families will travel thousands of miles to get to clinics like Beike Biotech, which has supposedly treated 3,000 Chinese and foreign patients at clinics in China.

Short of patient testimonials, the treatments, likened to "snake oil" sales, have produced no scientific evidence or studies demonstrating that they're actually effective.

"There is a risk that patients who are desperate will misunderstand the amount of progress," Harvard University Professor George Daley, associate director of the Stem Cell Program at Children's Hospital Boston told the Inquirer. "It is fertile ground for exploitation."

Brown agrees.

"This unbelievable and sad phenomenon naturally stems from the mainstream medical community's deliberate attempt to mislead Americans," she said.

"The truth is embryonic stem cell technology has been tested and found a failure. These parents are acting on misleading hype, which costs thousands of unborn babies their lives and dignity."

[NOTE: For more information about the differences between unsuccessful embryo-destructive stem cell research and successful, ethical adult stem cell research, visit pages here in our website.]


 [14July08, Katie Walker, D.C., http://www.all.org/article.php?id=11487]

 

 

 

CAPITOL HILL BRIEFING by patients and the doctor who treated them on the therapeutic benefits already being realized with adult stem cell treatments.  U.S. Capitol Building, HC-9 — Thursday, March 13, 2008

http://www.stemcellresearch.org/testimony/capitalhill_briefing.html; www.stemcellresearch.org]

 

 

 

ADULT STEM CELL FINDINGS OFFER NEW HOPE FOR PARKINSON'S CURE. Research released today provides evidence that a cure for Parkinson's disease could lie just inside the nose of patients themselves.

The Griffith University study published in the journal Stem Cells found that adult stem cells harvested from the noses of Parkinson's patients gave rise to dopamine-producing brain cells when transplanted into the brain of a rat.

The debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's such as loss of muscle control are caused by degeneration of cells that produce the essential chemical dopamine in the brain.

Current drug therapies replace dopamine in the brain, but these often become less effective after prolonged use.

The discovery is the work of the National Centre fo

r Adult Stem Cell Research, part of Griffith's Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies.

Project leader Professor Alan Mackay-Sim said researchers simulated Parkinson's symptoms in rats by creating lesions on one side of the brain similar to the damage Parkinson's causes in the human brain.

"The lesions to one side of the brain made the rats run in circles," he said.

"When stem cells from the nose of Parkinson's patients were cultured and injected into the damaged area the rats re-aquired the ability to run in a straight line.

"All animals transplanted with the human cells had a dramatic reduction in the rate of rotation within just 3 weeks," he said.

"This provided evidence the cells had differentiated to give rise to dopamine-producing neurons influenced by being in the environment of the brain. In-vitro tests also revealed the presence of dopamine."

"Significantly, none of the transplants led to formation of tumours or teratomas in the host rats as has occurred after embryonic stem cell transplantation in a similar model.

He said like all stem cells, stem cells from the olfactory nerve in the nose are 'naïve' having not yet differentiated into which sort of cells they will give rise to.

"They can still be influenced by the environment they are put into. In this case we transplanted them into the brain, where they were directed to give rise to dopamine producing brain cells."

The advantage of using a patient's own cells is that, unlike stem cells from a foreign embryo, they are not rejected by the patient's immune system, so patients are free from a lifetime of potentially dangerous immuno-suppressant drug therapy.

This development follows Professor Mackay-Sim's 2006 development of a world-first technique that demonstrated that olfactory adult stem cells can give rise to heart, nerve, liver and brain cells.

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Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
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Co-authors on the paper were Wayne Murrell, Andrew Wetzig, Michael Donnellan, François Féron, Tom Burne, Adrian Meedeniya, James Kesby, John Bianco, Chris Perry, Peter Silburn.

The study was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

Download the full article here at http://stemcells.alphamedpress.org/

[Source: Jeannette Langan, Research Australia; Main Category: Parkinson's Disease, Article Date: 08 Jun 2008, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/110254.php; www.stemcellresearch.org; Source: Research Australia, 6June08, http://physorg.com/news131968438.html?CFID=1136849&CFTOKEN=3b77c4aba5cfc78a-7433EEAA-

DA07-5EBB-8C651FC5C5A1A63A; FRC, 9June08]

THE AGING BRAIN HELPED BY INJECTION OF HUMAN UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD. When human umbilical cord blood cells (UCBC) were injected into aged laboratory animals, researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) found improvements in the microenvironment of the hippocampus region of the animals' brains and a subsequent rejuvenation of neural stem/progenitor cells.

Published online at BMC Neuroscience (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/22), the research presented the possibility of a cell therapy aimed at rejuvenating the aged brain.

"Brain cell neurogenesis decreases dramatically with increasing age, mostly because of a growing impoverishment in the brain's microenvironment," said co-author Alison Willing, PhD, of the USF Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. "The increase in neurogenesis we saw after injecting UCBCs seemed to be due to a decrease in inflammation."

According to lead author Carmelina Gemma, Ph.D., of the James A. Haley Veterans Administration Medical Center (VA) and USF, the decrease in neurogenesis that accompanies aging is a result of the decrease in proliferation of stem cells, not the loss of cells.

"In the brain, there are two stem cell pools, one of which resides in the hippocampus," explained graduate student and first author Adam Bachstetter. "As in other stem cell pools, the stem cells in the brain lose their capacity to generate new cells. A potent stressor of stem cell proliferation is inflammation."

Prior to this study, the research team led by Paula C. Bickford, Ph.D., of the VA and USF found that reducing neuroinflammation in aged rats by blocking the synthesis of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL1B rescued some of the age-related decrease in neurogenesis and improved cognitive function.

"We think that UCBCs may have a similar potential to reduce inflammation and to restore some of the lost capacity of stem/progenitor cells to proliferate and differentiate into neurons," said Dr. Bickford.

The study found that the number of proliferative cells increased within 24 hours following the UCBC injections into the aged laboratory rats and that the increased cell proliferation continued for at least 15 days following a single treatment.

"We have shown that injections of UCBCs can reduce neuroinflammation," concluded co-author Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D. D.Sc. director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. "Our results raise the possibility that a cell therapy could be an effective approach to improving the microenvironment of the aged brain and restoring some lost capacity."

—————————-
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
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Citation: Bachstetter, AD, Pabon, MM, Cole, MJ, Hudson, CE, Sanberg, PR, Willing, AE, Bickford, PC, Gemma, C. Peripheral injection of human umbilical cord blood stimulates neurogenesis in the aged rat brain. BMC Neuroscience, 9(1), 2008, 22 (Epub ahead of print).

[Source: Anne DeLotto Baier. University of South Florida Health,
Published online at BMC Neuroscience (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/22), Main Category: Stem Cell Research, 11 Mar 2008, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/100179.php]

MORE THAN ONE KIND OF ADULT STEM CELL IN GUTS. A single organ may contain more than one type of adult stem cell – a discovery that complicates prospects for using the versatile cells to replace damaged tissue as a treatment for disease, according to a new study from the laboratory of geneticist Mario Capecchi, the University of Utah's Nobel Laureate.

In the June 8 online issue of the journal Nature Genetics, Capecchi and geneticist Eugenio Sangiorgi report that when they used a gene named Bmi1 to mark the presence of adult stem cells in the intestines of mice, they were surprised to find the specific cells mostly in the upper third of the mouse intestine.

That indicates at least one or two other types of adult stem cells must exist to maintain and repair the middle and lower thirds of the mouse's guts. The small intestine in a mouse is almost 12 inches long if stretched from end to end.

Adult stem cells are "undifferentiated" cells that can become any type of cell in the organ in which they are found. Medical researchers hope to transplant adult stem cells to treat various diseases. Examples include placing adult stem cells in the pancreas to replace damaged insulin-producing cells, in the heart to replace cardiac muscle cells kill

ed by heart attack, and in the brain to replace dopamine-producing cells damaged in Parkinson's disease patients.

The new discovery "is important because people are talking about stem cell therapy; they want to stick in stem cells to treat disease," says Capecchi, a winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

"People always thought about a uniform stem cell population in each organ, but now we are saying there are multiple stem cell populations in a given organ, so if you're going to do therapy, you have to recognize this complexity," adds Capecchi, co-chair and distinguished professor of human genetics at the University of Utah and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Sangiorgi, a postdoctoral fellow in human genetics, adds: "There are probably different stem cells in the small intestine doing different things."

If more than one kind of adult stem cell is required to generate the intestinal lining, "it wouldn't be surprising to see it is true for other organs as well," Capecchi says.

Adult stem cells have been seen as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, which are able to become any kind of cell in the body – not just in a given organ – and are obtained from test-tube fertilization of eggs left over by couples attempting to have babies. Embryonic stem cells have been controversial because abortion foes consider them to be human beings rather than a small batch of cells.

Capecchi won the Nobel – with Sir Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies – for developing gene targeting, a method of using embryonic stem cells to "knock out" genes in mice, then observing what goes wrong to determine any gene's normal function.

Getting to the Guts of Adult Stem Cells

Stem cells in the intestine are among the best studied. They are required to produce new cells for the intestinal lining as older ones wear out every two to five days.

The intestinal adult stem cells give rise to various cells in the small intestine: cells to absorb foods; cells to secrete mucus that make the lining smooth and protect it; cells involved in protecting the organism against bacteria and other disease organisms; and cells that produce substances involved in communication among cells.

But researchers have had trouble identifying the stem cells so they can be studied.

"Adult stem cells are a giant black box," Sangiorgi says.

Hijacking a Gene to Unveil Stem Cells

Dutch researchers recently found a "marker" named Lgr5 to label intestinal stem cells. Sangiorgi and Capecchi used a similar method but a different "marker" – a gene name Bmi1 – which is "expressed" or activated in adult stem cells in the intestinal lining.

Labeling stem cells containing the Bmi1 gene involved tamoxifen, a drug used to treat and prevent breast cancer. Tamoxifen was used to activate an enzyme in cells that contain the Bmi1 gene so that the cells appeared blue when viewed under a microscope.

"We decided to hijack this gene to identify and label adult stem cells in the mouse intestine," Sangiorgi says.

Sangiorgi and Capecchi showed the cells they labeled with Bmi1 indeed were adult intestinal stem cells because they had two key properties: they self-renewed, or made more copies of themselves, and they gave rise to multiple kinds of other cells.

The stem cells, labeled blue, become various intestinal cells that are replaced about every five days. Yet the blue color was seen in intestinal tissue a year later, showing the stem cells within the tissue were renewing themselves, dividing and making new adult stem cells.

The geneticists also looked at the various kinds of intestinal-lining cells that arose from adult stem cells. All of them carried the blue tag, showing they originated from the adult stem cells.

When the geneticists used diphtheria toxin to kill the intestinal adult stem cells, "we wiped out the small intestine," says Capecchi. "Adult mice die within two days. That shows these stem cells are important for making the intestine."

Sangiorgi says the big surprise, however, was that the blue-dyed adult stem cells only appeared in normal concentrations in the upper third of the mouse, growing progressively fewer in number farther down the intestine, suggesting other kinds of adult stem cells must play the key role maintaining the middle and lower intestine.

Other Discoveries about Adult Stem Cells:

— Sangiorgi and Capecchi took beta catenin – a gene product often found in colon and digestive cancers – and activated it in adult stem cells from the intestinal lining. "Tumors developed very rapidly," Capecchi says. "That suggests the stem cells are important in the formation of cancer." There has been debate over the extent to which cancer originates from stem cells versus the cells that are their progeny. Sangiorgi says: "Is cancer derived from stem cells or not? In some cases it is, in some cases it is not."

— The geneticists found that the adult stem cells marked with the Bmi1 gene differed from the Dutch researchers' adult stem cells, marked with the Lgr5 gene. The difference was their location within crypts, which are small pits in the intestine's lining. Stem cells divide in crypts, producing progenitor cells that become intestinal cells.

There has been debate over where adult intestinal stem cells are found. The Utah geneticists found their Bmi1-marked adult stem cells dividing slowly near the top of the tube-like crypt, where it bubbles out to meet the intestine. The Dutch researchers found their Lgr5-marked cells dividing more rapidly farther down in the crypt, intermingled among "Paneth" cells, which produce enzymes to kill bacteria.

Capecchi sees no contradiction: "We both may be right. We may be looking at different phases of stem cells' life history," with the Bmi1-marked cells at an earlier phase and the cells marked by the other gene in a later phase.

"That says stem cell biology may be more complicated than we think, and they may be able to go from one state to another," and also migrating within crypts, he says. "They are still stem cells but are at different phases of their life cycle."

[University of Utah Health Sciences Center Office of Public Affairs
Main Category: Stem Cell Research; Article Date: 08 Jun 2008, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/110114.php]

BLOOD STEM CELLS ORIGINATE IN PLACENTA: Finding may help scientists recreate this micro-environment for disease treatments

Blood stem cells, which later differentiate into all types of blood cells, originate and are nurtured in the placenta, a U.S. study finds.

This finding may help researchers replicate the specific embryonic microenvironment necessary to grow blood stem cells in the lab so doctors can treat patients with diseases such as leukemia and aplastic anemia, said senior author Dr. Hanna Mikkola, a researcher in the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

"It was a big mystery, where these cells originated. This is the first time we can really say definitively that blood stem cells are generated in the placenta. There's no more speculation," Mikkola said in a prepared statement.

The discovery, reported in the March 6 issue of Cell Stem Cell, was made in research with mice. The researchers are now working to replicate it in humans.

In previous research, Mikkola and her colleagues found the placenta contained a large supply of stem cells

, but the researchers weren't sure if these stem cells were created in the placenta or originated elsewhere and migrated to the placenta to self-renew.

In this new study, Mikkola's team examined a unique mouse model, a mouse embryo without a heartbeat. Because there was no blood circulation, the researchers were able to find the blood stem cells at their point of origin in the placenta.

"Using this model, we identified that the placenta has the potential to make hematopoietic [blood] stem cells with full differentiation ability to create all the major lineages of blood cells. The placenta acts as a sort of kindergarten for these newly made blood stem cells, giving them the first education they need," Mikkola explained.

The National Institutes of Health has more about stem cells.[7March08, HealthDay News, http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/healthday/080307/blood-stem-cells-originate-in-the-placenta.htm]

 

 

 

 

SCIENTISTS SAY ANIMAL PARTS & ORGANS TO BE USED IN HUMANS. Blood vessels, tendons and bladders from animals are to be used in humans for the first time after a breakthrough in transplant surgery.

Scientists have overcome the problem of rejection, which has previously prevented animal tissues from being used in patients. It opens the way for a range of new procedures using animal parts.

Children could be given pigs' heart valves that can grow with them, avoiding the need for repeated surgery; tissues such as ligaments, which have previously been difficult or impossible to repair, could be replaced; and eye patients could even be provided with new corneas.

By stripping the animal tissue of its cells with a series of chemical treatments, the scientists were left with a biological scaffold that provides a structure but no longer carries the factors that can trigger a recipient's body to reject a transplant.

When the scaffold is surgically inserted into the patient's body, his or her own cells grow into it to create new tissue.

Because the patient's own cells fill the scaffold to create the tissue, scientists say there are no problems with rejection and the tissues are also able to regenerate, allowing them to last longer.

American bioethicist Wesley J. Smith responded to the news, saying, “Before we go over the top with excitement, there is still the issue of potential viruses crossing the species barrier to consider. But perhaps this procedure is able to avoid that problem since some parts, like pig valves already in use in heart surgery, don't appear to carry that risk.” 
[21July08, London, England, www.LifeNews.com, #4372]