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!

Major Breakthrough With Cell Transformation

This could be the most amazing feat conducted this year in the lab. It’s been referred to as a miracle in cell biology and could be the discovery of the decade. Canadian scientists have discovered a way to transform human skin cells into blood cells without the need for embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells. Reprogrammed adult stem cells (iPS) have failed in its ability to be transplanted and very difficult to produce blood cells from.

Bypassing the stem cell stage entirely, these scientists were able to produce large quantities of blood cells with young or older patients.  Does this new discovery open the door for other types of cells? Science Daily reports…

“We have shown this works using human skin. We know how it works and believe we can even improve on the process,” said Bhatia. “We’ll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence. The discovery was replicated several times over two years using human skin from both young and old people to prove it works for any age of person.”

This new discovery offers hope for cancer patients who may no longer need a bone marrow transplant that needs to be perfectly matched. Also, for patients who need transfusions for surgery! Not only that but by bypassing the pluripotent stem cell stage would avoid any safety concerns that might come up. This is welcoming news for those of us who value human life by not requiring a terrible way to harvest embryonic stem cells and the inefficiency conversion results trying to produce blood cells with possible system complications such as rejection of  foreign biological material.

Hopefully we will see even more innovations in this line of research later this year or next.  While there has been much debate over stem cell research through the years even some in the United States have voted in their candidate because of this particular issue, and science journals like Nature before the election which was the result of fear concerning Republicans obtaining more power in Congress. But the fact remains, major breakthroughs are coming from this area of science not embryonic stem cells nor Darwianism for that matter!