Human Skin Stem Cells Treating Various Disorders

What is a stem cell? It’s basically a “blank” cell, which is capable of becoming other cell types like muscle cells or nerve cells or even skin cells. Adult stem cells can become a built-in repair system for the human body, replenishing other cells as long as a person remains alive!

This research has become more important in recent years than ever before for treating various diseases and disorders! Speaking of which, there has been exciting news coming out with reprogramming skin cells for new treatments!

Science Daily writes…

“The study is the first successful attempt to employ human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to produce a population of cells that are critical to neural signaling in the brain. In this instance, the researchers utilized cells crafted from human skin and transplanted them into animal models of myelin disease.”

“This study strongly supports the utility of hiPSCs as a feasible and effective source of cells to treat myelin disorders,” said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. “In fact, it appears that cells derived from this source are at least as effective as those created using embryonic or tissue-specific stem cells.”

“The discovery opens the door to potential new treatments using hiPSC-derived cells for a range of neurological diseases characterized by the loss of a specific cell population in the central nervous system called myelin…”

There was great hype with embryonic stem cells with the claim that scientists think human embryonic stem cells could lead to cures for many ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, some forms of blindness and possibly cancer. However, as science progresses, adult stem cells can replace embryonic ones and be even more effective. For instance, using one’s own stem cells from their own body for treatment lessens the odds greatly of rejection! Also, there is not controversy by destroying another human in the process!

Adult stems cells are in abundance! They can be collected from various  pregnancy-related tissues, and body tissues where they can be also reprogrammed as you seen in this article to the embryonic stage! How exciting is that? :)

Adult Stem Cell Research Continues To Flourish

Adult stem cells has been compiling more promise for future medical research with no ethical qualms.  On the other hand, embryonic stem cell research has no compiling  record with major ethical concerns! The breakthrough of science back in 2009, continues to dazzle with more breakthroughs with understanding pluripotent cells (adult stem cells reprogrammed back to their embryonic stage).

New Scientist reports of a discovery with human skin containing important adult stem cells that are able to repair wounds! These cells exist in sweat and are not found in animals, the article adds this…“Humans have three times more eccrine glands than hair follicles, making them the major contributor to new skin cells.”  Elaine Fuchs from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland says the discovery was unexpected and goes against current dogma!

In Medical Xpress, pluripotent cells could be used to create personalized medicine for cancer patients!

“In the November 19 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report that these new stem-like cells do not express the same genes as embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) do.”

“That explains why they don’t produce tumors when they grow in the laboratory, as the other stem cells do, and why they are stable, producing the kind of cells researchers want them to. “These seem to be exactly the kind of cells that we need to make regenerative medicine a reality,” says the study’s senior investigator, chairman of the department of pathology at Georgetown Lombardi, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center.”

Very exciting news in adult stem cell research! Are you looking to refresh those old cells of yours? Well guess what? Researchers at the University of Toronto discovered a way to refresh those old cells, making them look young again!

Science Daily reports…

“A new method of growing cardiac tissue is teaching old stem cells new tricks. The discovery, which transforms aged stem cells into cells that function like much younger ones, may one day enable scientists to grow cardiac patches for damaged or diseased hearts from a patient’s own stem cells — no matter what age the patient — while avoiding the threat of rejection.”

With so much success continuing for adult stem cells which has been quite amazing, it seems superfluous to continue work with ethically-charged embryonic stem cells where concerns about abuse are being raised.

Can one trust scientist to regulate themselves with ethics? This is something the public insists upon.  However rigging public support is an unethical practice. Here is an example of claiming to employ an unbiased statistical sample of the public concerning stem cell research…

“Representing the Public in Public Engagement: The Case of the 2008 UK Stem Cell Dialogue” where Alison Mohr and Sujatha Raman (PLoS Biology) analyze the situation…

“Efforts to engage the public in science take many forms, yet in many cases, “engagement” is a means toward acceptance rather than true participation. In 2008, the largest ever public engagement (PE) exercise sponsored by UK Research Councils was held. The Stem Cell Dialogue (SCD), designed to identify the range of views and concerns amongst the wider public about stem cell research, was jointly supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), and Sciencewise.”

The SCD revealed high levels of public support for stem cell science and technology, according to the official press release [1], and thus seems to validate the traditional reasons offered for conducting PE around cutting-edge science: that engaging the wider public in dialogue at an early stage can help scientists communicate the motivations for their research, including its expected societal benefits, assuage potential ethical concerns, avert damaging controversies, and secure public acceptance.”

“But, is this instrumental rationale–engagement toward a predetermined goal–sufficient? Can it offer the democratic legitimacy that underlies the recent turn to this type of “upstream” engagement? And does the SCD as it actually unfolded merit the summary finding of public support reported in the press release? In this paper, we draw from our work as official evaluators of the SCD (see Box 1), and recent debates on the purpose of engagement, to ask: how should we understand the “public” in PE; why is PE important for both society and science; and what lessons should we take from actual PE exercises? “

Some very good questions, the problem is, employing an unbiased statistical sample of the public concerning stem cell research is not the case! Yes, you read about how “competing rationales for representing the public can lead to particular outcomes that conflict with the democratic ideals of PE.”  So they take into account opposing viewpoints towards the research. But look who they omitted in the sample…

“The lack of alternative or more critical/skeptical perspectives of counter-experts (e.g., advocacy/pro-life group, religious group, journalistic, or National Health Service viewpoints) limited the range of participants’ discussion and increased the potential for obtaining positively biased indications of public approval and acceptance.”

The workshops contained mostly those who were for the research while skeptical perspectives were practically invisible! What does that mean? It means, a rigged sample of representing the public! By using this method, the public would be portrayed as overwhelmingly supported of any type of research being conducted!

“The homogeneity of responses appears to have been shaped by the role played by experts in framing the discussion. Framing played a significant role in bounding the discussions as participants showed a strong tendency to follow and explore the main issues raised in the experts’ presentations.” 

Not only does this rigging of public support happen with stem cell research, but it happens often with evolution which also requires public engagement! Despite the flaw and unethical ways of rigging public opinion, adult stem cell continues to flourish with astounding advancements for promising treatments for various people which would enhance our heath greatly!

Breaking News: Stem Cell Research

Adult stem cell research is providing opportunities to treat people with a various  diseases and conditions.  In 2010, a man’s ankle refused to heal so the doctor took  bone marrow from the man’s pelvic bone with a needle, condensed it to about four teaspoons of rich red liquid, and injected that into his ankle. Four months later, the ankle was healed!

Since 2000, there has been great controversy over stem cell research namely embryonic stem cells which is mainly left-wing  ideology that blamed former President Bush for denying treatments rather than where the science goes. Embryonic stem cells are taken from a developing embryo at the blastocyst stage, destroying the embryo, a developing human life.

Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are found in all tissues of the growing human being and, according to latest reports, also have the potential to transform themselves into practically all other cell types, or revert to being stem cells with greater reproductive capacity.  Here is some of the latest research concerning stem cells…

How often have you donated or seen money raised for muscular dystrophy? Has there been any progress recently? Well yes there has been!

In phys.org…

“The research, published today in Cell Stem Cell, outlines the strategy for the development of a rapidly dividing population of skeletal myogenic progenitor cells (muscle-forming cells) derived from induced pluripotent (iPS) cells. iPS cells have all of the potential of embryonic stem (ES) cells, but are derived by reprogramming skin cells. They can be patient-specific, which renders them unlikely to be rejected, and do not involve the destruction of embryos.”

“Upon transplantation into mice suffering from muscular dystrophy, human skeletal myogenic progenitor cells provided both extensive and long-term muscle regeneration which resulted in improved muscle function,” the article said.

In North Carolina  School of Medicine, they had discovered that embryonic stem cells will commit suicide rather than risk DNA damage! Bax is a protein that is responsible for causing cell death.

In phys.org…

“Of all the important things our bodies’ cells do, staying alive is clearly key. But a cell’s ability to die when something goes wrong is equally critical. For example, a faulty self-destruct button is one factor that allows cancer cells to proliferate unchecked and cause tumors.”

“Deshmukh and his colleagues discovered stem cells are extremely sensitive to DNA damage, which can be caused by factors like chemicals, radiation or viruses. The experiment showed that virtually 100 percent of human embryonic stem cells treated with a DNA-damaging drug killed themselves within 5 hours, as compared to 24 hours for other types of cells.”

There had been concerned over iPS stem cells but techniques for inducing pluripotent stem cells from tissues (iPS) continue to improve.

“Our results show that human iPS cells accrue genetic changes at about the same rate as any replicating cells, which we don’t feel is a cause for concern,” says Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and oncology, and a member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.

“Each time a cell divides, it has the chance to make errors and incorporate new genetic changes in its DNA, Cheng explains. Some genetic changes can be harmless, but others can lead to changes in cell behavior that may lead to disease and, in the worst case, to cancer.”

Great research continues to progress with adult stem cells, the craziness of promoting ES back in 2000 to the present day were wrong.  If If iPS cells or other adult stem cells do better with fewer problems and no moral concerns, why is there a dispute?

Embryonic Stem Cells Loose Steam: Adult Stem Cells Gain

In early years of President Bush Sr, certain scientists and special interests fought for embryonic research. Anyone against it was considered against science and future medical discoveries. An argument often times used with creation science. During 2004, California’s Proposition 71 was passed which then released $3 billion in taxpayer funds in order to promote research on embryonic stem cells. Last year in phys.org it said this about the debate…

“The potent but hotly debated cells can transform into nearly any cell in the human body, opening a path toward eliminating such ills as Parkinson’s disease, paralysis, diabetes, heart disease, and maybe even the ravages of aging. And more human experiments are on the way as scientists refine new methods to get around the controversy that surrounds embryonic stem cell research, which has generated controversy because it involves the destruction of early human life.”

Even with ethical implications, much of the mainstream media, certain scientists remained dedicated in continuing embryonic stem cell research, much praise and exciting came when the Geron Corporation decided to use ES on on spinal cord injuries. But as reported in this blog in the past, embryonic stem cell research is dying and adult stem cell research continues to flourish.

The Geron Corporation decided it wasn’t going to be profitable enough to maintain the research so they killed the project all together. They are now focusing in on certain cancer treatments. Critics argued that the research in ES is not working like other promising treatments. Not only is it unethical to use ES for research but the critics are right about other promising treatments in the medical field that destroy the ES hype over the last ten years.

Here are a few examples…

Healthy new heart cells have been “generated by animals with chronic ischemic heart disease after receiving stem cells derived from cardiac biopsies or “cardiospheres,” according to research conducted at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.” reports Science Daily.

“The UB research demonstrated a 30 percent increase in healthy heart muscle cells within a month after receiving cardiosphere-derived cells (or CDCs). This finding is contrary to conventional wisdom which has held that heart cells are terminally differentiated and thus, are unable to divide…”Whereas most research has focused upon irreversible damage and scarring following a heart attack, we have shown that a single CDC infusion is capable of improving heart function in areas of the heart that are viable but not functioning normally,” explains study co-author John M. Canty Jr., MD, the Albert and Elizabeth Rekate Professor of Medicine in the UB medical school and UB’s chief of cardiovascular medicine.”

This is amazing research which in addition to may help the heart pump more blood after a heart attack; this was demonstrated on 16 human heart-attack survivors! Since ES is dying research doesn’t mean it can’t be replaced. While pituitary glands were created with embryonic stem cells by scientists, the research also believed they could do the same thing with adult stem cells, thus destroying the idea that was hyped up over ES research.

Using a patient’s own stem cells from bone marrow to repair torn knees and other injuries known as the first stem cell bandage in human clinical trials had received a great deal of funding recently as investors are putting their money into what is more promising. Medical Xpress writes…

“The company, which has received approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the world’s first clinical trial using its Cell Bandage product, is funded by existing investors IP Group plc, the developer of intellectual property based businesses — and Oxford Technology Management as well as new investors including lead funder, Mr Osmond.

“Azellon’s Cell Bandage has been designed as an alternative to the current treatment of surgical removal of the meniscus (meniscectomy), a procedure that more than 1.7 million people around the world per year are estimated to undergo. This common orthopaedic procedure often results in the early onset of osteoarthritis, leading to further joint surgery including total knee replacement.”

“The Cell Bandage, which in vitro (tissue culture) has shown great promise for the healing of meniscal tears, is grown from the patient’s own stem cells and will be transplanted in the patient’s knee joint within two weeks of extracting the stem cells from bone marrow.”

There is incredible advances with adult stem cell research that are way better than ES research which doesn’t spark ethical problems. Christians should be elated with this type of progress in science! We live in an exciting time!

Adult Stem Cell Research Continues To Progress

The number one breakthrough in science of 2009, continues its amazing progress in 2011 with promising treatments with no ethical questions like embryonic stem cell research. A breakthrough in fighting lung disease, physorg reports on how Duke scientists discovered a signal used by airway stem cells that regulate which tissues are produced.

“Our work has identified the Notch signaling pathway as a central regulatory ‘switch’ that controls the differentiation of airway basal stem cells,” said Jason Rock, Ph.D., lead author and postdoctoral researcher in Brigid Hogan’s cell biology laboratory.”

“Studies like ours will enhance efforts to develop effective genetic, cellular, and molecular therapies for airway diseases – a leading cause of death worldwide. Interestingly, the press release likened the Notch signalling pathway to “executive software” governing the stem cells’ fate.”

Some more research consists of a new way to reprogram skin cells directly into brain cells! Science daily reports this particular breakthrough…

“The new technique avoids many of the ethical dilemmas that stem cell research has faced. For the first time, a research group at Lund University in Sweden has succeeded in creating specific types of nerve cells from human skin. By reprogramming connective tissue cells, called fibroblasts, directly into nerve cells, a new field has been opened up with the potential to take research on cell transplants to the next level.”

“The discovery represents a fundamental change in the view of the function and capacity of mature cells. By taking mature cells as their starting point instead of stem cells, the Lund researchers also avoid the ethical issues linked to research on embryonic stem cells.”

Collecting ES stem cells from the umbilical cord blood which hold no ethical dilemmas either, has been a focus of research which shows promise. Where maternity wards,  have previously discarded as medical waste, are becoming gold mines for stem cells!

Science daily reports…

“The prototype is still in the testing stage, but initial results are promising. The student inventors have obtained a provisional patent covering the technology and have formed a company, TheraCord, to further develop the technology, which may someday be used widely in hospital maternity units. The students say the need for this system is obvious.

“Cord blood, collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after live birth, is the most viable source of stem cells, yet over 90 percent is uncollected and discarded,” the team members wrote in a presentation of their project at the university’s recent Biomedical Engineering Design Day. “One of the main reasons valuable cord blood is so frequently discarded is because no adequate collection method exists.”

However, it’s not all good news there is some bad news too. Some scientists continue advocating more funding for ES research. Concerns that it might be banned all together which is highly unlikely because not all ES research collected is not ethical rather there is no controversy with collecting and using ES through the umbilical cord and placenta after live birth which are improving with new research. On April 29, a federal appeals court blocked Lamberth’s decision restoring federal financing of human embryonic stem cell research for now. Still some scientists in this field make a faulty argument for their position.

Phyorg reports…

“If federal funding stops for human embryonic stem cell research, it would have a serious negative impact on iPS cell research,” said Stanford University bioethicist Christopher Scott, one of the co-authors. “We may never be able to choose between iPS and ES cell research because we don’t know which type of cell will be best for eventual therapies.”

The research is clear, adult and ips stem cells are the future for treatments, let the evidence lead rather than trying to force taxpayers to fund something that many are not support of, for there is no compelling and logical need to do so!

Great News For Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Former first lady Nancy Reagan and others believed the use of stem cells from embryos could lead to cures for such illnesses as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. President Bush in 2001, restricted federal funding of embryonic research. But when former President Reagan died, 58 senators asked Bush to relax federal restrictions citing 19 out of the 78 embryonic stem cell lines were only good enough for research.

Mrs. Bush back in 2001, referred to alternatives rather than what she called, “abusing embryos” in research. Back at that time, neither side knew how successful the alternatives would be in the future as the main focus from liberal groups was to fund the embryonic stem cell research in the United States while others opposed it and rightfully so on morality issues.

Reprogramming stem cells to their embryonic stage (pluripotent stem cells) has been making tremendous strides for future treatments on various diseases. In MedicalXpress

“Now, for the first time, scientists at Monash University’s Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories (MISCL) have shown that they can make human stem cells from healthy adult kidneys without working on human embryos, circumventing ethical concerns around this research.”

“This achievement will allow group leader Associate Professor Sharon Ricardo and her team to model genetic kidney diseases in the laboratory and tease out the mechanisms that control these difficult-to-treat disorders. “We’re taking human kidney cells and winding back the clock to make their early precursors,” Associate Professor Ricardo said.”

In another article from the same source, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research are using stem cells from bone marrow can be genetically altered which enables it to resist damage from chemotherapy, helping cancer patients endure the treatment without harmful effects! Things like brain cancer take its toll on human bone marrow when patients are being treated with chemotherapy.

Great news for those with Parkinson’s disease. Researchers from South Korea and Harvard have identified a “protein-based” human iPS cell” that appears promising for reversing nerve cell loss in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.  Their experiments “reversed disease when transplanted into the brain of rats modeling Parkinson disease.” However, embryonic stem cells was mentioned as one of the two sources of the stem cells but no evidence that it worked too, only the iPS cells were effective.

What about adult stem cells? This month we see another amazing discovery that took place. researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found a “human lung stem cell that is self-renewing and capable of forming and integrating multiple biological structures of the lung including bronchioles, alveoli and pulmonary vessels.”

Cell News reports…

“This research describes, for the first time, a true human lung stem cell. The discovery of this stem cell has the potential to offer those who suffer from chronic lung diseases a totally novel treatment option by regenerating or repairing damaged areas of the lung,” said Piero Anversa, MD, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and corresponding author.”

This has been remarkable and very encouraging for Christians and others who value ethics to see adult stem cell research take off, leaving embryonic stem cell research in the dust while the discoveries show promising treatments.  But what if it had turned out the other way?  What if embryonic stem cells were actively producing cures for these same diseases?  Experimenting on human embryos would still be unethical! Also, in the past decade of stem-cell research has shown that some scientists’ greed for fame and money outruns their interest in ethics. But those who value ethics and solid research to improve mankind this is great news for non-embryonic stem cell research!

Judge’s Decision On ESC Overturned

On August 23, 2010, a judge ruled based on the Dickey-Wicker Amendment of 1996 which prohibits funding for research that destroys human embryos! Liberals in support of this research were reeling and took up arms, as well as publications like Nature whose editors wrote…

“Congress is unlikely to have a huge appetite for a bruising, highly polarizing debate in the weeks immediately preceding November’s midterm elections.  Yet time is of the essence, and a great deal is at stake.  The House may revert to Republican control in November, in which case action to affirm the funding would be highly unlikely….

Congress should take up the issue speedily when it reconvenes mid-month.  And if ever there was a time for scientists to let members of Congress and the public know what they think, it is now.”

This political statement from a science magazine goes to show, its not about the research but about the money because the science breakthrough of the year in 2009 continues to have momentum which is ethically-untainted adult stem cell research. Furthermore, embryonic stem cell (ESC) researchers are free to seek private or corporate funding which lacks interest. One of the reason why it lacks interest is because adult stem cells are progressing well for treatments such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) might be able to treat immune diseases says Medical Xpress while the other not so much but contains a lot of hype and promises for possible future treatments.

“Many countries have tried to research embryonic stem. Embryonic stem cells bring with them transplant rejection issues…”

Last Friday, the high court overturned the decision“The ruling was hailed by both the White House and the National Institutes of Health, which allocated about $40 million to human embryonic stem cell research in 2010 and has set aside $125 million this year — a tiny fraction of its $31 billion budget.”

This is a classic case of taxation without representation, if there was evidence of ESCs being so promising for health, private investors would flood research labs with big bucks to make profits.  The only way the ESC-greedy research community can proceed is by taking money from taxpayers, many of whom are appalled by killing embryos!