Stem Cell Clarity (Stevens, 7/04)

The following points highlight key findings of scientific studies funded with tens of millions of private and federal dollars revealed about embryonic stem cells since the President’s policy was put in place on August 9, 2001… 1) Human embryonic stem cell lines have proven difficult to develop and maintain.1-42) Pure embryonic stem cell cultures are difficult to obtain. 5, 63) Embryonic stem cells are unstable and mutate in culture. 7, 84) Differentiation protocols for many cell types have not been developed. 95) Differentiated Cell types often act abnormally. 10-126) When embryonic-derived cells have been placed in animals, cancerous tumors have formed. 13, 147) To address the problem of immune rejection, researchers have proposed cloning individual patients to obtain compatible embryonic stem cells. 15-178) Besides the ethical inadmissibility of human cloning, some researchers have questioned whether cloning will truly solve the rejection problem. Cells taken from cloned human beings are not normal. Women’s groups and others have rightly condemned the commercialization of women required to gain the millions of human eggs needed for such cloning. 18, 199) Even if each of these problems were somehow solved, at a cost of over $200,000 per patient, only the very wealthy could afford the procedure. Many physicians and patients also would reject the therapy on moral grounds. 20, 21 Due to these and other hurdles, the earliest that supporters of embryonic stem cell research proponents can possibly hope for clinical applications from embryonic stem cells is 10-15 years away—if ever. As more and more problems with embryonic stem cells are uncovered through research, some scientists are now predicting that we won’t see any...

Stem Cells Made Easy

Many well-meaning people have become very confused and overwhelmed by the muddied media reports about stem cells, unintentional or otherwise. Here is a quick, simplified outline to help clear the air about stem cells: Two Major Types of Human Stem Cells        1. Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs)       Human egg and sperm are combined in the lab to make a fertilized human zygote. This human zygote is then allowed to divide to about the 8-cell stage and then it is destroyed for the stem cells. To destroy human life at any stage has always been considered immoral and unethical.       Not one — not even one — successful human treatment with embryonic stem cells has yet occurred. To the contrary, medical tests using embryonic stem cells have actually had disastrous results. ESC often grow uncontrollably and have produced tumors in people that have caused death or serious damage.         2.  Non-Embryonic Stem Cells       Non-Embryonic Stem Cells do not result in the death of a human being and so are considered a morally and ethically acceptable source of stem cells.         There are several sources for Non-Embryonic Stem Cells:             a. Adult Stem Cells (ASCs)                b. Newborn Placental (afterbirth) Stem Cells                c. Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Adult Stem Cells (ASCs) can be obtained from any person’s blood, fat (adipose) tissue, bone marrow, muscle tissue — even from baby tooth pulp and recently from heart (cardiac) muscle tissue. Stem cells can be coaxed in the lab into many other types of cells, including nerve cells. Adult stem cells are being used now, and have already been used in dozens of research studies. Literally hundreds...

Scientists in Stem Cell Cover-Up (5/04)

Researchers are engaged in a “stem-cell war,” a deliberate effort to downplay the proven value of adult stem cells to attract more attention to the potential of embryonic stem cells. It’s a war being fought partly over ethics, but mostly over money. Stem-cell research constitutes one of the most exciting areas in medical science. It promises to prevent, ameliorate and cure diseases for which there are now few if any treatments. Here are a few of the wonders in progress: More than 30 anticancer uses for stem cells have been tested on humans, with many already in routine therapeutical use. By some accounts, the area in which stem-cell applications are moving fastest is autoimmune disease, in which the body’s own protective system turns on itself. Diseases for which stem cells currently are being tested on humans include diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Evans syndrome, rheumatic disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [Lou Gehrig’s disease], and many others. In 2/04, two different human-autopsy studies demonstrated that stem cells transfused into the marrow work their way into the brain, where they can repair neurons and other vital cells. Other studies have shown that when injected into animals with severed spinal cords, stem cells rush to the injury site effecting repairs. “I think the stem cells may act as a repair squad,” says the leader of one of the two studies, Helen Blau of the Stanford University Brain Research Institute. “They travel through the bloodstream, respond to stress, and contribute to brain cells. They clearly repair damage in muscle and other tissues.” At a conference in late 2002, French researchers reported that during the...