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Adult Stem Cells Cure Italian Boy of Potentially Lethal Anemia

Adult Stem Cells from Bone Marrow Can Grow Blood Vessels in Eyes

Adult Muscle Stem Cells – Hope to Treat Muscular Dystrophy




The most striking questioning involved the fundamental question of when human life begins.

“When quizzed by Sen. Brownback, proponents of destructive embryo research could not give a definite answer on when their own lives became of worth. When scientists don’t recognize life and its value, they have no place in research. Our culture must learn to recognize the inherent dignity of each and every human life, including the most defenseless. The alternative is a cheapening of life for everyone.”  [Senate Hearing Testimony/Witness List-;  Stem Cell Research, Cloning and Human Embryos;   FRC, 30Sept04]

ADULT STEM CELLS CURE ITALIAN BOY OF POTENTIALLY LETHAL ANEMIA – An adult stem-cell therapy has cured an Italian boy of a potentially lethal anemia. The cells were gathered from the placenta of his recently born twin brothers, according to the health ministry.

The innovative development in the treatment was the use of two different batches of blood from the brothers – one with plenty of stem cells, the other altered in vitro to target the older sibling’s Thalassemia. The successful stem-cell treatment spared the boy a lifetime of transfusions or a bone marrow transplant, for which an exact match would have been needed. [13Sept04,]

ADULT STEM CELLS FROM BONE MARROW CAN GROW BLOOD VESSELS IN EYES — Researchers [Scripps Research Inst, La Jolla, CA, headed by Dr. Martin Friedlander] have found that adult stem cells from bone marrow can target degenerating cells in the eye (which is a major cause of blindness), and prevent further degeneration. 

Adult stem cells from bone marrow are known to be divided into two types—ones that later form blood (hematopoietic lineage; called Lin+) and ones that don’t later form blood (non-hematopoietic lineage; called Lin-).  The Lin- stem cells that the Scripps team studied were found to contain a population of cells (endothelial precursor cells, EPCs) that turn into endothelial cells, the cells that line blood vessels. 

When these Lin- stem cells were injected into the eyeballs of newborn mice, they “extensively and stably incorporated” into the newly-forming blood vessels of the retina (the membrane at the back of the eyeball).  Also, when EPC-enriched bone marrow stem cells were injected into a line of mice that normally develops retinal vascular degeneration, the cells were able to stabilize the retinal blood vessel system and keep it from degenerating. 

Dr. Friedlander said that he was “flabbergasted” at the improvement seen.  They also tested the EPCs’ ability to target the retina, by genetically-engineering the cells to deliver a particular protein to the retina that is able to stop blood vessel formation (sometimes, overgrowth of blood vessels can cause blindness).  When they injected them into the eyes of mice, normal blood vessel formation was halted, without affecting already-established blood vessels.  This showed that the cells had delivered the protein to precisely the correct place. 

Using this technique to introduce reparative genes could be helpful in the future because the patient’s own cells could be used to do so, which would eliminate risk of immune rejection.  In addition, these cells could be used to treat eye diseases and disorders that affect blood vessels in the retina. 

Blindness due to diabetic complications and age-related macular degeneration (loss of vision due to malfunctioning of retinal cells) are two of the leading causes of blindness, which could be possibly treated with these adult stem cells. 

These cells could possibly also aid in the delivery of drugs to the eye, since they are so adept at targeting blood vessels.  “It just blew me away that we could use these cells as magic bullets,” said Dr. Friedlander.  “If the blood vessels are destined to deteriorate, the stem cells will completely reverse and stabilize the problem.  That was really a surprise — a real pleasant, interesting surprise.”

[Otani, A. et al, “Bone marrow-derived stem cells target retinal astrocytes and can promote or inhibit retinal agniogenesis,” Nature Medicine, September 2002, Published online July 29, 2002, doi: 10.1038/nm744 ( ,,,,, and Culture of Life Fdn/Inst,]

ADULT MUSCLE STEM CELLS COULD TREAT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY — Scientists [Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Univ of Bonn, Germany] have identified a special adult stem cell derived from muscle that has some extraordinarily beneficial qualities. 

They isolated the cells from mouse skeletal muscle, and tested them alongside a couple other types of muscle cells.  They found that the stem cells, which they call MDSCs (muscle-derived stem cells) have some great qualities:  (1) they can proliferate over a long period of time without losing their basic karyotype (genetic blueprint); (2) they are multipotential—they can differentiate into muscle, neural, and endothelial cell types, both in vitro (in the lab) and in vivo (in animals); (3) after injection into “mdx mice” (a mouse with a type of muscular dystrophy), the cells transplanted well with very little immune reaction. 

Further testing of the cells showed that the reason the cells resist immune rejection is probably because they exhibit extremely low amounts of protein markers called MHC proteins, which are usually used by the immune system to detect foreign cells

Their paper states, “Our results suggest that this novel population of muscle-derived stem cells will significantly improve muscle cell-mediated therapies.”  It is hoped that the cells could possibly be used for transplantation purposes and to treat muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

[Qu-Petersen, Z, et al, “Identification of a novel population of muscle stem cells in mice: potential for muscle regeneration,” Journal of Cell Biology, 2002, 157(5), pp. 851-864 and  and .
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