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British Scientist Uses Adult Stem Cell Research to Treat Back Pain

Australia Lawmakers Upset Over Human Cloning Vote 

BRITISH SCIENTIST USES ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH TO TREAT BACK PAIN.   A University of Manchester researcher has developed a treatment for lower back pain using the patient's own stem cells, which could replace the use of strong painkillers or surgery. Those options don't ultimate addresses the underlying cause of back pain in many patients.

Dr. Stephen Richardson, of the University's Division of Regenerative Medicine in the School of Medicine (FMHS), has developed the treatment in collaboration with German biotechnology company Arthrokinetics and internationally renowned spinal surgeons.

Richardson is hoping to enter pre-clinical trials next year (2007).

Low back pain affects a large proportion of the adult population at some point in their lives and in many of these cases it is persistent, eventually leading to debilitating pain.

Currently, treatments address the symptoms — mainly pain — using a combination of painkillers, physiotherapy or surgery, removing tissue to relieve the pain or fusing the vertebrae above and below the painful disc. None of these options is ideal as they only treat the symptoms, not the cause, and are of limited long-term success.

The treatment Dr. Richardson is developing uses a cell-based tissue engineering approach to regenerate the intervertebral disc (IVD) at the affected level. This is achieved through the combination of the patients' own mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and a naturally occurring collagen gel that can be implanted through a minimally-invasive surgical technique.

MSCs are a population of progenitor cells found in the bone marrow of adults which can differentiate into many different cell types in the body. Dr Richardson found that for several reasons he could not use cells from the IVD itself and thus spent a number of years developing a method of producing NP cells from MSCs.

"Once we have extracted the bone marrow from the patient and have purified the MSCs, they will be grown in culture and our patented method of differentiation will be applied," Richardson said in a statement.
"They will then be embedded within a gel which can be implanted back into the patient through an arthroscope," he explained. The treatment has massive implications for the future of lower back pain treatment.
[4Dec2006, Ertelt, Manchester, England]


 AUSTRALIA LAWMAKERS, PRO-LIFE GROUPS UPSET AT HUMAN CLONING VOTE. Lawmakers and pro-life groups are upset that the Australia parliament gave the final approval to a measure overturning the nation's ban on all forms of human cloning. The proposal allowed human cloning for research purposes even though the creation and destruction of human life for their stem cells hasn't helped patients. After the vote, Nationals Senate Leader Ron Boswell said most Australians would be horrified to learn the details of what parliament approved. Senator Boswell told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: "I would think if people knew the details of it they would be absolutely horrified." NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells agreed and said it was a sad day for Australia that the country will now allow the cloning and killing of human beings for research. "I think this debate has been led in a very misleading and deceptive manner," she told the newspaper. Fierravanti-Wells said the bill also allows scientists to use cells from babies who are victims of abortion and to take human eggs for research from dead women. [8Dec06, Canberra,]