Human-Animal Embryo Study Wins Approval in Britain / Update
NEW! Researchers Identify New Type of Adult Stem Cells to Treat Heart Attacks & Muscle Injury & Disease
Adult Stem Cells Rebuild Alabama Woman's Heart / 'Your Own Stem Cells Work!'
British Researchers Grow Human Heart Valve Tissue With Adult Stem Cells
Adult Stem Cell Research Used to Treat Macular Degeneration
Adult Stem Cell Research Using Rabbits Shows Progress in Treating Cornea Disorders
Scientists Help Multiple Sclerosis Patients…
HUMAN-ANIMAL EMBRYO STUDY SET TO WIN APPROVAL: Mixing to be allowed in search for new medical treatments
Plans to allow British scientists to create human-animal embryos are expected to be approved tomorrow by the government's fertility regulator. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority published its long-awaited public consultation on the controversial research yesterday, revealing that a majority of people were "at ease" with scientists creating the hybrid embryos.
Researchers want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs, in the hope they will be able to extract valuable embryonic stem cells from them. The cells form the basic building blocks of the body and are expected to pave the way for revolutionary therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even spinal cord injuries.
The consultation papers were released ahead of the authority's final decision on the matter, which will mark the end of almost a year of intense lobbying by scientists and a fervent campaign by organisations opposed to research involving embryonic stem cells.
Using animal eggs will allow researchers to push ahead unhindered by the shortage of human eggs. Under existing laws, the embryos must be destroyed after 14 days when they are no bigger than a pinhead, and cannot be implanted into the womb.
Opponents of the research and some religious groups say the work blurs the distinction between humans and animals, and creates embryos that are destined to be destroyed when stem cells are extracted from them.
Two research groups based at King's College London and Newcastle University have already applied to the HFEA to create animal-human embryos, but their applications have been on hold since November last year amid confusion over whether the authority was legally able to issue licences.
If the authority approves the research, the applications will go forward to a committee, with a decision on both due within three months.
Professor Ian Wilmut, whose team cloned Dolly the sheep, is waiting for the HFEA's decision before applying to create hybrid embryos to study motor neurone disease with Professor Chris Shaw at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.
The consultation, a £150,000, three-month mix of opinion polls, public meetings and debates, found participants were initially cautious of merging animal and human material, but became more positive. "When further factual information was provided and further discussion took place, the majority of participants became more at ease with the idea," the HFEA's report says.
Most support was expressed for the creation of so-called cytoplasmic hybrid embryos, in which a human cell is inserted into an empty animal egg. Other hybrid embryos, such as those created by fertilising an animal egg with human sperm, or vice versa, were less well supported.
In December, the government sparked a revolt by scientists, patient groups and medical researchers when it published a white paper containing proposals to outlaw almost all research into animal-human embryos. The research has since been backed by Nobel prizewinners, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Commons science and technology committee, and the government's chief science adviser, Sir David King.
In May, the government withdrew its opposition in a draft fertility bill and now seeks to outlaw only embryos created by mixing sperm and eggs from humans and animals. The bill will be put before parliament before the end of the year.
Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, said: "The HFEA's consultation reveals welcome recognition of the potential of this research, [with] 61% of the general public agreeing with the creation of human-animal embryos, if it may help understand diseases, with only a quarter opposed to this research." [http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/sep/04/stem.cell.research, Ian Sample, The Guardian; 4Sept07, N Valko RN]
BRITISH GOVERNMENT WILL LIKELY ALLOW SCIENTISTS TO MAKE HUMAN-ANIMAL HYBRIDS. The British government is set to make a decision on 5Sept07 about whether scientists can engage in human and animal cloning that fuses the two together. Pro-life groups there have been outraged that scientists would pursue fusing human and animal DNA together, even in an effort to fight diseases.
The researchers are pursuing human-animal chimeras and want to infuse DNA from the eggs of dead cows with that of humans to create embryos that can be killed and harvested for stem cells.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is set to decide on two applications by two teams of scientists. It appears likely to approve their request, though the final approval will come from a licensing authority that meets in November.
If it approves the requests, Britain would be set apart from the United States, Canada and Australia, all of which prohibit the cloning of hybrids.
The researchers claim the process of inserting DNA into the cow eggs will allow them to gain a better understanding of some genetic diseases, such as motor neurone disease. They also say the chimeras can give them an access to stem cells and eggs that they don't currently have. They say the rates of donation of eggs by women at fertility clinics is low as few women want to undergo the egg extraction procedure because it is painful and has medical risks. [5September2007, London, England LifeNews.com]
RESEARCHERS IDENTIFY NEW ADULT STEM CELLS TO TREAT HEART ATTACKS, MUSCLES. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have discovered a unique population of adult stem cells derived from human muscle that could be used to treat muscle injuries and diseases such as heart attack and muscular dystrophy.
These cells advance the kind of stem cell research that pro-life advocates support.
The researchers isolated and characterized stem cells taken from blood vessels (known as myoendothelial
These cells are easily isolated using cell-sorting techniques, proliferate rapidly and can be differentiated in the laboratory into muscle, bone and cartilage cells.
As a result, these characteristics may make them ideally suited as a potential therapy for muscle injuries and diseases.
Drs. Johnny Huard and Bruno Pйault led the study and published their results in the September issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.
"Finding this population of stem cells in a human source represents a major breakthrough for us because it brings us much closer to a clinical application of this therapy," Huard said in a press release LifeNews.com obtained.
Dr. Huard also said that the therapies derived from the adult stem cells would avoid the immune system rejection issues that normally accompany the use of embryonic ones.
"Because this is an autologous transplant, meaning from the patient to himself, there is not the risk of rejection you would have if you took the stem cells from another source," he explained.
Working in dystrophic mice while searching for a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Dr. Huard's laboratory team first identified a unique population of muscle-derived stem cells with the ability to repair muscle 8 years ago.
[Nature Biotechnology, 9/07; 4 September2007, Ertelt, LifeNews.com, Pittsburgh, PA]
AL HEART PATIENT GIVES HER ACCOUNT OF TAKING PART IN STEM CELL RESEARCH
[NOTE: There are scores of sites in the USA and worldwide where research, actual treatments, and clinical trials are being conducted using adult and/or umbilical cord blood stem cells. There are NO trials using embryonic stem cells because of serious health problems including tumor formation and organ/tissue rejection.
After suffering a series of heart attacks and being told by doctors that a heart transplant was her only hope, Montgomery event planner Carron Morrow could have just given up. But in October, Morrow became one of 30 heart patients taking part in Texas Heart Institute's groundbreaking research using adult stem cells.
Morrow is quick to point out that with adult stem cells, the cells are harvested from the patient's own body, unlike the heated topic of the use of embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cell research is not surrounded by controversy.
Locally, Morrow and her mother, Lela Foshee, are known for their catering business, Personal Touch. But now, Morrow's face and story are appearing all over the country, in print ads for the Texas Heart Institute in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, the in-flight magazines for Southwest and American Airlines, and other publications. This fall, her story will be included in a PBS documentary focusing on the Institute's stem cell research.]
Here, in her own words, Morrow shares her story.
Carron Morrow: I had my first heart attack at 39, then the next one at 40. I had another one five years ago and that was even after I had lost 135 pounds, was waling two miles a day, and going to the gym. I felt great, and then bang! After the first heart attack I started researching my family history. My dad had his first heart attack at age 40, as did his father and his grandfather and all my dad's brothers. None lived past age 50 — they all had massive heart attacks that killed them on the spot. There was also a history on my mother's side, so I got a double dose.
When I had my fourth heast attack last sommer, I collapsed, and all the vessels on the right side of my heart closed up so tight that when I went to UAB they could not even put in a stent. They put in a defibrillator to delay a full heart attack in the future, to give me a chance to get to the hospital if I had another heart attack. They just said, "We'll have to put her on the transplant list; we've done all we could do."
I wallowed in self-pity and cried for a week. I couldn't face my staff without crying; I have a passion for my business. When I went to the Texas Heart Institute's departments to see if I could be part of the study program, a nurse told me not to get my hopes up.
By this point, I couldn't say two words without having to take a breath. I was in a wheelchair — I couldn't even walk to my car without running out of breath. The next morning, they called and said, "You meet the criteria. Come on to the hospital." I thought, "I'm going to be given a second chance to hold my grandchildren! It's just a miracle."
"Miracle" Cells — New, Healthy Cells
In five years, it's amazing how medicine is exploding with these new ideas about stem cells.
One of my doctors is Dr. Emerson Perin, has done adult stem cell work in Brazil and wants it to be approved by the FDA in the U.S., because it can save millions of lives.
Dr. James Willerson (another researcher) explained it to me this way: When a man and a woman conceive a child, a zygote cell is formed — therefore, each of us starts as one cell. They have found that you can take a cell from one part of your body and put it in another part; then it takes on the personality of what it has attached to, and it will regrow that part of your body.
For the procedure, they took 55 ccs of my bone marrow from my left hip — it's called bone aspiration. Then they sent it to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas where they cultivated the cells out.
Within four hours, I was back on the operating table, and through a heart catheter procedure, they injected the right side of my heart 15 times with my own stem cells.
Or with a placebo — because it was a blind study, we didn't know until April whether I got the placebo or my actual stem cells. They handed me the envelope in April — I opened it, and it read, "Stem Cells". I was so excited, even though I just KNEW I had to have received the stem cells because I felt so much better!
The study was done with the hope that the stem cells would imbed into the hearts of the patients. It was hoped that the blood flow of the patients would increase by 50 percent. When I came for the study, my blood flow (ejection fracture) was only 22%.
On July 22, 2007, I returned for more tests, and after 6 months, my ejection fracture is now 45% from 22%! My defibrillator has been reduced in strength and my UAB [Univ of Alabama in Birmingham] doctor stated that if I had come to him with a 45% blood ejecture, I would not need a defibrillator at all.
New Found Fame
The editor of Elegant Bride called and said, "I was flying on Southwest and I turned the page of the [Southwest] magazine and there was Carron!" Another friend was coming from Arizona on American Airlines and saw it. It will be in Fortune this month.
I can't believe all the attention! It has given me an opportunity to talk to local women's groups about the heart.
Every time I've had a heart attack, I've been in denial (I'd say, "I've just been working too hard.") I had warning signs weeks prior to the heart attack and wouldn't pay any attention. Now I tell these groups to check out warning signs, to use omega-3 oil to make the arteries less likely to have plaque, and to use baby aspirin. Both help, as well as folic acid. Doctors now understand there are great benefits to these things.
And I talk to women's groups about stem cells — about adult and umbilical cord stem cells.
Doctors are starting to ask pregnant mothers to donate the stem cells from their babies' umbilical cords at the time of birth — this is a rich source of stem cells that can be used to help people. The use of adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells is not contoversial because you're using your own stem cells from your own body, or from the umbilical cord, and it can be so beneficial. [22July2007, Teri Greene, Montgomery Advertiser]
Adult Stem Cells Rebuild Alabama Woman's Heart
Noncontroversial research wins another convert.
Alabama event planner Carron Morrow was hanging Japanese lanterns for a wedding last summer when she suffered her fourth heart attack. A week later, the doctor told the 58-year-old mother of two she was a walking time bomb: The right side of her heart was functioning at less than 50 percent. They tried stents and a defibrillator. Then she was put on the heart transplant list.
"All I could do was cry," she says. "I just thought, 'I'm about to die.' There's 100,000 people waiting for a heart."
By fall, she grew worse.
"I couldn't walk 20 feet without being on somebody's arm," Morrow says. "I couldn't go to the mall. My legs just wouldn't carry me. I knew I had really gotten worse."
Her church rallied around her. "Each time I've had one of these heart attacks, the church has surrounded me in prayer," she says.
Morrow's nurse from her third heart attack had been researching adult stem-cell therapy and came across a groundbreaking study at the Texas Heart Institute. Her health records were sent to Texas.
"Within a month's time, I was in Texas," she says.
But just 30 people would be admitted to the study: 20 would receive stem-cell therapy, and 10 would receive a placebo.
"I started praying," Morrow says. "They called me at a quarter to five." She would be part of the research that began in Brazil more than a decade ago.
First, she had to sign liability papers for the surgery, which is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"My next choice was just to drop dead, so I signed everything," she says, "and had full confidence in that group."
On Oct. 14, 2006 — her birthday — she went into surgery. Doctors removed about 50cc of bone marrow from her left hip. Then the cells were cultivated. Four hours later, she was back in surgery, where 30 million stem cells were injected into the right side of her heart.
Morrow stayed in Texas for nine days and returned every two weeks through January. A local businessman, for whom she had catered, paid for all of her plane trips.
'I could sing a whole song'
"I knew within two months something was going on," Morrow says. "I could sing a whole song at church."
By December, she "was plating food as hard as any other chef there."
In April, "I had a huge wedding in Jackson, Mississippi. We put in 80 hours that week. My sister said, 'Carron, you know you have the stem cells.' "
The following week in Texas, it was confirmed: "This little bitty envelope had 'stem cell' in it."
This month, she returned to the University of Alabama, where she had received dire news just a year ago. She had another CT scan to see how her heart was functioning.
"The doctor calls and says, 'Ma'am, the right side of your heart is normal.'"
She thought he had the tests messed up and had the report faxed to Montgomery. "I was in la-la land for several days."
PBS featured her on a documentary that aired June 7.
"I told the doctor, 'I don't understand why we have this huge political mess going on about stem cells,'" Morrow says. "I'm living proof that adult stem cells work far better than embryonic. And why should embryonic even be in discussion?
"I'm here to say, 'I'm living proof. It saved my life.'
"I'm just doing great."
She doesn't even need her $85,000 defibrillator anymore. The cost to culture the stem cells, Morrow says: Less than $600. "This is going to revolutionize heart disease.
"This community has been such a strength for me," she says. "I am just so blessed. I feel so undeserving. I am not a perfect person. I just am overwhelmed with how good God is to me.
"I have been given an opportunity … even when we don't deserve it. I am very, very grateful.
"I hope God lets me shout it from the ro
oftop, 'Your own stem cells work.'
"I am just so excited about the study of stem cells, the possibilities."
Alabama Woman's Heart Rebuilt by Her Own Adult Stem Cells
by Jennifer Mesko, Associate Editor
31 Jul 07
NEW! 'Your Own Stem Cells Work!' : Carron Morrow's Story
An event planner named Carron Morrow says she had two choices when it came to treating a serious heart condition: Sign liability papers for an unusual new treatment—or drop dead.
Not surprisingly, she chose to sign the papers—and became another stem-cell miracle. An adult stem-cell miracle, that is.
Carron, a 58-year-old Alabama mother, was in bad shape last year after suffering four heart attacks. The right side of her heart was functioning at less than 50 percent. Carron needed a new heart—but 100,000 people were ahead of her on the transplant list.
By fall, she told CitizenLink, “I couldn’t walk 20 feet without being on somebody’s arm.” Her church rallied round her in prayer.
Meanwhile, Carron’s nurse was researching adult stem-cell therapies and discovered a groundbreaking study at the Texas Heart Institute. Researchers agreed to include Carron in the study, which included surgery not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
In October, surgeons removed 500ccs of bone marrow from Carron’s left hip. The cells were cultivated, and four hours later, 30 million stem cells were injected into the right side of Carron’s heart.
Within two months, Carron relates, “I could sing a whole song at church,” and was back at work. Four months later, she had another CT scan to see how her heart was functioning. The news could not have been more—well, heart-stopping.
As Carron put it: “The doctor calls and says, ‘Ma’am, the right side of your heart is normal.’ I was in la-la land for several days.” The procedure cost just $600. Not a bad price for what amounts to a brand-new heart.
When Carron came down to earth, she had a question for her doctor: “I don’t understand,” she said, “why we have this huge political mess going on about stem cells. I’m living proof that adult stem cells work far better than embryonic.” And she adds: “Why should embryonic [stem-cells] even be in the discussion?” Good question.
I’d love to hear her testimony the next time Congress lectures us—that is, debates the morality of funding embryo-destructive stem-cell research. But I’m not holding my breath. Too many members of Congress are too busy calling conservatives and Christians “anti-science.” They’re too busy trying to convince Americans that research involving embryonic stem cells, not adult stem cells, is destined to cure a multitude of diseases—despite the notable lack of success. Why? Because embryonic stem cell research is potentially far more lucrative than research involving adult stem cells.
Meanwhile, the list of people being helped or cured by adult stem cell procedures has become almost too long to keep track of. Medical advances just in the last few months include using adult stem cells from bone marrow to create heart valves. They’ve been used to successfully treat children with juvenile diabetes, and patients with lupus, liver cancer, paralysis, and Parkinson’s. Absolutely remarkable.
Meanwhile, Carron Morrow isn’t waiting to get that call from Congress. She doesn’t need the halls of Congress to tell the world the truth about how adult stem cells saved her life—without destroying anyone else’s. As she put it: “I hope God lets me shout it from the rooftop: ‘Your own stem cells work!’”
For Further Reading and Information
Jennifer Mesko, “Adult Stem Cell’s Rebuild Alabama Woman’s Heart,” CitizenLink.com, 30 July 2007. http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000005149.cfm
List of medical advances (http://www.stemcellresearchcures.com/MedicalAdvances.html) made in the study of adult stem cells by Stem Cell Research Cures (http://www.stemcellresearchcures.com/index.html).
Elizabeth O’Brien, “Alabama Woman: ‘I'm Living Proof that Adult Stem Cells Work Far Better than Embryonic’,” LifeSite News, 10 August 2007 http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/aug/07081007.html.
Tom Strode, “Experts: Adult Stem Cell Research Should be a Priority,” Baptist Press, 1 August 2007. http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=26165
Randy Hall, “Adult Stem Cell Research Puts Patients First, Proponents Say,” Crosswalk.com, 30 July 2007. http://www.crosswalk.com/news/11549514/
Kim Moreland, “Adult Stem Cell Success Stories,” The Point, 16 October 2007.
J. Clinton, “Great Stem Cell News (In Simple Language),” The Point, 18 January 2007.
Breakpoint Commentary No. 060323, “Following the Money: Embryonic Stem Cells and Big Bucks.” http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=1537
Breakpoint Commentary No. 040812, “Stemming the Confusion: The False Sell on Stem Cells.” http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=3334
Breakpoint Commentary No. 041022, “The Politics of Suffering: Stem Cell Research and Our Moral Ideals.” http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=2268
[BreakPoint Commentaries: Biotechnology, By Chuck Colson, 8/22/2007, http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=6921]
BRITISH RESEARCHERS GROW HUMAN HEART VALVE TISSUE WITH ADULT STEM CELLS from a patient's bone marrow. Their progress means that the ethical stem cells could be used to create hearts from scratch for transplants and show that adult stem cells can be just as effective as more controversial embryonic ones.
Led by Magdi Yacoub, scientists at Imperial College London said the tissue works the same way that the natural valves in the human heart do. "We have a sort of rudimentary new valve tissue," Adrian Chester, one of the lead researchers. "We have been using various mechanical stimuli to cause this change in the cell function. We are still a matter of (three) years away before being able to test this in an animal," Chester added. [3April07, England, AFP; 3Apr, LifeNews.com]
ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH HAS ALREADY TREATED BLINDNESS. Adult stem cells have been used to treat blind patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness among elderly people, and their conditions have vastly improved.
Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells within the eye play a vital role in
the survival and maintenance of the rods and cones that detect light and color. Death of RPE cells may lead to the condition known as AMD.
Doctors extracted stem cells from patients’ own eyes, then cultured healthy tissue to repair their corneas.
“I feel like a human being again,” Deborah Catlyn told the London Telegraph in April 2005. She regained her sight after losing it in 2002 when a woman threw acid in her face.
Catlyn is one of 20 Britons who this adult stem cell procedure has enriched. It was developed at Hyderabad, India’s Prasad Eye Institute, where some 200 blind people have been treated, most of them successfully.
Meanwhile, scientists at Scripps Research Institute used bone marrow stem cells to grow new blood vessels in the eyes of mice, a development researchers say could lead to treatments for some forms of blindness in humans, including diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
The injected adult stem cells home in on the parts of the eye where they are needed, grow new blood vessels, and prevent blindness in the mice.
The Scripps researchers published their findings in the medical journal Nature back in July 2002.
Last month, Scripps scientists received a $17 million grant for adult stem cell use to treat eye diseases.
"Our goal in the next five years is to develop this new approach to treating retinal diseases to the point it can be tested in the clinic," said the initiative's principal investigator Martin Friedlander [professor, Scripps Research and retina specialist at Scripps Clinic].
"This is an extraordinary opportunity to take highly novel laboratory concepts, test them experimentally, and translate them into therapies for the treatment of blinding eye disease." [5June07, Ertelt LifeNews.com London, England]
ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH SHOWS PROGRESS IN TREATING CORNEA DISORDERS. A group of scientists have shown that a new method of growing adult stem cells is effective in treating cornea disorders.
The new process was designed in the in the Area of Cellular Therapy of the University Clinic at the University of Navarra. Ana Fernández Hortelano, an ophthalmologist at the hospital, applied the growth technique in treating 70 rabbits and trying to restore the damaged epithelium and restore transparency to the cornea. The process involved in using corneal stem cells in patients with pathologies of the cornea, such as caustications or ocular herpes, by using stem cells from a healthy contralateral eye. The technique is currently being applied to patients with satisfactory results.
The procedure used by Dr Fernández Hortelano involved obtaining this type of cell – corneal stem cells – by means of a biopsy of cells from a healthy eye of the rabbit. This is a small sample of cells – 3 by 4 mm – and so the contrateral eye is not in danger. The adult stem cells obtained are implanted in the damaged eye and the limb is regenerated, this leading to the recovery of the corneal epithelium and, thereby, the transparency of the cornea. The results to date achieved amongst the group of rabbits, with induced limbic insufficiency and which then had a transplant of adult stem cells, showed recovery of the corneal epithelium in 60% of the treated animals. The corneal epithelium is the layer that is damaged with limbic insufficiency, a problem which, in the long term, results in opacity of the cornea. [24July07, Washington, DC (LifeNews.com]
SCIENTISTS HELP MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) PATIENTS. Scientists in Canada have developed a vaccine that, in early testing, appears to help patients having multiple sclerosis. Dr. Amit Bar-Or and researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute developed a vaccine that relies on the insertion of healthy DNA into a patient with the debilitating disease.
Bar-Or tested the BHT-3009 on 30 patients where half received the injection and half received a placebo. The London Telegraph reports that the numbers of white blood cells that deplete myelin in MS patients reduced in those given the vaccine.
According to his report in the journal Archives of Neurology, "BHT-3009 was safe and well tolerated, provided favorable trends on brain MRI and produced beneficial immune changes."
The newspaper said the research team is now starting a larger study involving 290 patients.
Wesley J. Smith, a noted author and attorney who is one of the leading bioethics watchdogs, said regarding the slowing of the progress of the MS disease: "Adult stem cells have stopped the progression of the disabling disease in Stage 2 human trials. Now, a different approach in early human trials is also showing promise," he added.
[14August2007, Ertelt, LifeNews.com Montreal, Canada]