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!

Adult Stem Cells Treatments

Researchers using induced pluripotent stem cells, inject the stem cells into animal hearts which then promotes a level of restoration in functionality on their subjects…

Science Daily

“University of Cincinnati researchers have found that applying a stem cell-infused patch together with overexpression of a specific cell instruction molecule promoted cell migration to damaged cardiac tissue following heart attack and resulted in improved function in animal models.”

“Three days following the heart attack, researchers placed a cell patch on the damaged region and measured the expression of cardiac-related transcription factor A (a protein that binds to specific DNA sequences, controlling the movement of genetic information from DNA to mRNA), collagen levels in the damaged tissue andscar formation-related signaling pathways.”

Research starting to focus more on the bilical cord which according to the article is not very well understood because of the lack of research in this area of stem cells. A team of researchers from Peking University People’s Hospital, China, decided to conduct a study.

Physorg and their researchers paper is found here

“The researchers took immune cells from RA patients and showed that the umbilical MSCs were able to suppress the cells’ proliferation, invasive behavior and inflammatory responses. Systemic infusion of the umbilical MSCs into mice was shown to significantly reduce the severity of collagen-induced arthritis. Speaking about the results, Professor Li said, “RA imparts a massive burden on health services worldwide and none of the currently used agents reaches long term drug-free remission. Therefore, a new and more effective therapy for RA will be very welcome”.

Great news concerning stem cells obtained from umbilical cords which may be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis! And that’s not all, those of us who like to workout notice a breakdown in function and mass as we get older. However, research in adult stem cells of transplanted into the leg muscles of mice restored function and mass in their muscles. Now wouldn’t it be great to maintain muscle function and mass as you get older? The finding may lead to treatments for patients with chronic, degenerative muscle diseases…

“The experiments showed that when young host mice with limb muscle injuries were injected with muscle stem cells from young donor mice, the cells not only repaired the injury within days, they caused the treated muscle to double in mass and sustain itself through the lifetime of the transplanted mice. “This was a very exciting and unexpected result,” said Professor Bradley Olwin of CU-Boulder’s molecular, cellular and developmental biology department, the study’s corresponding author.”

When a cardiovascular disease gets so serious, the only option left is amputation of a limb. This has happened to one of my grandparents. But today, a treatment was announced that may save many thousands of limbs from amputation!

Science daily reports…

“Northwestern Medicine physician researchers are revolutionizing treatment of cardiovascular disease by utilizing patients’ own stem cells to regenerate heart and vascular tissue. Northwestern Medicine is the lead site for a study examining stem cell transplantation as treatment for critical limb ischemia.”

“Stem cell treatment was associated with a significant reduction in amputation rate,” said Losordo. “Treatment was associated with a 50 percent reduction in the total amputation rate compared to control. Although further study is needed, these results provide evidence that CD34 cell therapy is an effective treatment for critical limb ischemia.”

What about Embryonic Stem Cell research? After all, nature lobbied congress to hurry and pass laws to fund this research in fear of Republicans getting elected. All the hype since 2000 on this research has produced this recently…

In science daily, “Growing human embryonic stem cells in the lab is no small feat.”

In Nature, the news was nothing more than some research in Singapore trying to identify all the transcription factors that regulate embryonic stem cells.

Nothing about treatments of animals nor humans which is not surprising. The explosion of new treatments is coming from adult stem cells which is where the funding should be provided. Something that ES proponents never dreamed could happen because they thought it would mostly come form ES. Speaking of which why aren’t they rejoicing in all these advances in adult stem cell research?   


Why Are Some Scientists Obsessed with ESC Research?

While adult stem cell research continues to show promise in various treatments, we find some scientists who are obsessed with keeping embryonic stem cell research on the public dole. The same tactics are used in their argument which are also used in the creationism vs. evolution debate. For example, some have claimed, restricting funding on ESC research is an attack on “science” despite the fact that $500 million already has been spent on ESC research.

Jack Mosher at the University of Michigan said, “It’s worrying that I could come into work one day and I might not be allowed to do my research because of someone’s ideological beliefs rather than the quality of the science.” Many specular promises are made for what might come out of the research. Last month Nature published a article critical of adult stem cells suggesting that some may have memory problems making  true pluripotent stem cells and ESC more appealing.

Nature news in a court ruling against funding ESC research are lobbying congress to make a law to keep taxpayer money coming in while awaiting another decision by the court. Physorg has been the only secular outlet that has a balanced story on the advancements of adult stem cell research and ESC research. The article notes the ethical concerns with embryonic stem cell research unlike previous articles in other publications.

Dr. Paul Sanberg, admitted that “Two decades of cell-based research has been accompanied by poor management of public discussion regarding ethics.” That is because for many of them who are pro-ESC research, it’s not about ethics or the fact that adult stem cells have been showing greater promise in treatments but it’s about the money!

It has been reported that a spinal cord treatment using embryonic stem cells is going to be conducted for the first time on humans but no amount of scientific research on embryos can address the ethics of doing what they can do. The destruction of a human embryo! However, not all of this research is bad, there are other ways of obtaining ESC that can be used for treatments without ethical concerns but one thing is for sure, ESC research is not going to live up to the hype that some scientists are suggesting  with their obsession using emotional ranting, hopefully this is not going to take away from adult stem research and it’s progress!  The United States is for the people and by the people and the public should not bow down to scientists and always give them what they want, they are only human!