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!

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!

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?