A story on research involving the use of stem cells to repair damaged hearts received a significant amount of coverage, particular on all of the network news broadcasts, where it received more coverage, with regard to time, than any other story on the broadcasts the entire week..
Archives for posts tagged ‘adult stem cells’
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Friday, 3 September 2010
A groundbreaking new study provides more good news for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) with adult stem cells. Researchers at the University of Bristol used patients’ own adult stem cells to treat their MS.
In a Phase I clinical trial, six patients with MS were treated with their own bone marrow adult stem cells and their progress followed for one year. The treatment appeared to stabilized the patients’ condition and showed some benefits. As one measure of the success of the procedure, damaged nerve pathways were able to carry electrical pulses more effectively after the treatment.
Multiple sclerosis is an incurable disease, with the patient’s own immune system attacking the central nervous system and eventually leaving many patients in a wheelchair.
One of the most encouraging aspects of this trial was the elegantly simple procedure. Patients reported to the hospital and had bone marrow adult stem cells removed, the cells were filtered, and then given back to the patients intravenously. The patients went home before the end of the day.
The research team is led by Professor Neil Scolding, at the University of Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trust. Professor Scolding said:
“We are encouraged by the results of this early study. The safety data are reassuring and the suggestion of benefit tantalising. Research into the underlying mechanisms is ongoing and vital, in order to build on these results. We believe that stem cells mobilised from the marrow to the blood are responsible, and that they help improve disease in several ways, including neuroprotection and immune modulation.”
The team is now planning a Phase II/III study. The report for this trial is published in the Nature journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Previous studies have also had good success at stopping MS progression, and in some cases putting patients into remission. Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern University has published several studies showing good success using adult stem cells to “reboot” the immune system of MS patients.
Scientists in Australia have also used the procedure with success, and recently Dr. Mark Freedman of Ottawa, Canada has produced “long-lasting remission” in MS patients.
In these cases, patients had their bone marrow adult stem cells collected, then received chemotherapy to knock the rogue immune cells that were attacking their nervous system. Then their adult stem cells were re-injected.
While recent successful treatments have used milder chemotherapy, this is still not a gentle or risk-free procedure for the patient.
The new approach by the Bristol team is all the more interesting in this respect, because there is no pre-conditioning with chemotherapy.
An international group of multiple sclerosis researchers have looked at these uses of adult stem cells for treatment of MS, and propose moving forward with additional clinical trials to help patients.
Monday, 10 May 2010
The successes for adult, cord blood, and placental-derived stem cells just keep piling up. Now comes an AP report saying, “Celgene Corporation … reported a successful safety trial of a placenta-derived stem cell therapy as a treatment for Crohn’s disease.”
During the trial, “12 patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease,” who had been previously treated unsuccessfully, “were given two infusions of Celgene’s PDA-001 at one week apart, at one of two doses.”
According to Celgene, patients who received a lower-dose of PDA-001 appeared to benefit from the treatment and clinical remission was noted in four participants, Reuters reported.
Such findings were considered so encouraging that the firm has decided to test the therapy on a broad spectrum of diseases.
What’s more, PDA-001 is unlikely to draw ire, because it is cultivated from healthy, full-term human placental tissue.
Could this be another death knell for the unwise and unethical research on stems cells taken from unborn human children? I could only hope and pray so.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Here’s a listing of the top ten stories in bioethics from ethicist Wesley Smith.
In my opinion, t his isn’t an idle exercise. Bioethics matters. The field exerts tremendous influence over the most important questions of public policy and moral values:
- How should we treat the most vulnerable and dependent among us?
- What makes us human?
- Indeed, is it even morally relevant that one is human?
Trends in bioethics, thus, illuminate where we are as a society and the nature of the culture we are creating for our progeny.
10: The ascendance of an anti-human environmentalism.
Deep ecology, the most radical expression of environmentalism, maintains that human beings are the world’s enemy — the AIDS of the Earth, as one advocate put it — and that saving the planet will require depopulating the Earth to under 1 billion.
It is easy to dismiss such misanthropy as the radical fringe. Alas, during the last decade, vocal and unapologetic support for draconian depopulation has become a part of the environmental mainstream, and is now almost universal within the global-warming movement.
China’s one-child policy is not considered anathema by many global-warming alarmists, and is even extolled by influential leaders.
The head of the U.K. Green party, Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the U.K. government’s Sustainable Development Commission, said that curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming.
Radical environmentalism appears to have morphed into anti-humanism, the result of which could be a new impetus for eugenics and radical population control.
9. The growth of biological colonialism.
Desperate and destitute people are increasingly being exploited for their body parts and functions.
For example, a black market has developed in human organs, in which well-off Westerners avoid transplant waiting lists by traveling to countries such as India, Bangladesh, or Turkey to purchase kidneys.
The exploitation got so out of hand in the Philippines that the government was forced to outlaw organ-transplant surgery for non-citizens.
Matters were even worse in China, where it was credibly charged that prisoners — perhaps practitioners of Falun Gong — were executed and their organs sold.
Organ buying wasn’t the only growth sector in biological colonialism. The Daily Mail reported that women in Ukraine were being paid to get pregnant and have abortions to create stem cells for use in beauty treatments; the BBC reported the practice might even include infanticide.
Poor women in India are renting their wombs to rich women for gestation, and some Westerners are buying Indian IVF embryos because it is cheaper than having them made at home.
8. The increase in American pro-life attitudes.
In the last decade, polling showed a dramatic increase in the number of people who identify themselves as pro-life. For example, in 2000, a Gallup poll found that 48 percent of respondents were “pro-choice” and 43 percent “pro-life.”
In 2009, those numbers had more than reversed, with a majority identifying as pro-life (51 percent) and only 42 percent pro-choice.
These changed attitudes were reflected in public policy, for example the passage of the federal ban on partial-birth abortion and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.
If this trend continues, it could eventually shake the Roe regimen off its foundation.
7. The struggle over Obamacare.
The political brouhaha over Obamacare was the bioethics story of 2009, not only in the U.S. but throughout much of the developed world.
The strong victory of Obamacare opponents in the political debate — which may not prevent the bill’s becoming law — demonstrated that the majority of Americans do not want European-style health care, nor, for that matter, health-care rationing (thus the resonance of Sarah Palin’s “death panel” remark).
The debate will not end with the passage or failure of a bill, and health-care reform will likely be one of the most important stories of the coming decade.
6. Legalization of assisted suicide in Washington.
Though some thought it inevitable, legalized assisted suicide faced very rough sledding after Oregon passed its breakthrough law in 1994.
After many years of failure, in 2008, an abundantly financed initiative campaign, fronted and partially paid for by a popular ex-governor, finally succeeded in Washington. Interestingly, as soon as the law went into effect, so did the pushback: Many Washington doctors and health-care systems publicly opted out of participation.
A month later, a Montana trial judge declared a constitutional right to assisted suicide; the Montana supreme court eventually vacated the decision, but also ruled it legal under the living-will law for doctors to write lethal prescriptions for their terminally ill patients.
Then, in 2009, the old stalemate reemerged, with legislatures in states as widespread as Hawaii, Arizona, Wisconsin, Vermont, and New Hampshire refusing to follow Washington’s lead.
Still, the Washington victory boosted the morale of assisted-suicide activists, who promise to wage an energetic legalization campaign in the coming decade.
5: The success of adult-stem-cell research.
When the embryonic-stem-cell debate first emerged at the end of the Clinton presidency, bio-scientists and their media acolytes insisted that embryonic stem cells offered the “best hope” for developing regenerative medical treatments and cures.
At the same time, the potential for adult stem cells was downplayed, for example because they can’t become every type of cell in the body, a capacity known as “pluripotency.”
But things didn’t turn out as expected.
Embryonic stem cells proved difficult to harness and are still not approved for use in any human trials due to safety concerns, although two studies may begin next year.
In contrast, adult stem cells have shown remarkable capacities.
For example, in early human trials, adult stem cells have helped diabetics get off insulin, restored sensation to paralyzed people with spinal-cord injuries, helped heal unhealthy hearts, and provided hope to patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
These and other amazing advances in adult-stem-cell research provided one of the few pieces of truly good news in a sour decade.
4. “Suicide tourism” in Switzerland.
Over the last decade, Switzerland became Jack Kevorkian as a country, its suicide clinics catering to an increasingly international clientele — mostly from the United Kingdom — with the victims ranging from the terminally ill, to people with disabilities, to even a double suicide of a terminally ill elderly woman and her frail husband, who wanted to die rather than be cared for by others.
Alas, as was the case with Kevorkian in the 1990s, audacity was rewarded.
In the face of a wave of high-profile suicide-tourism stories, England’s head prosecutor published guidelines that, in essence, decriminalized family and friends’ assisting the suicides of the dying, disabled, and infirm.
Others mimicked the Swiss. In the U.S., the Final Exit Network appears to have created mobile suicide clinics, leading to the indictment of several of its organizers.
Meanwhile, the Australian “Dr. Death,” Philip Nitschke, traveled the world holding how-to-commit-suicide clinics.
Still, as the decade came to a close, there was a sense that the tide could be turning: The Swiss government appears poised to shut down the suicide-tourism industry, perhaps even — although this is less likely — outlawing assisted suicide altogether.
3. IVF anarchy.
The story of Nadya Suleman — better known as “Octomom” — epitomized all that has gone wrong in the assisted-reproduction industry.
With the field virtually unregulated in the U.S. (and many other countries), oftentimes, anything goes. Because there were no regulations on the number of embryos that could be made during an IVF procedure, we now have 400,000 “spare” embryos on ice, looked upon by some as being akin to a crop ripe for the harvest.
The lack of regulations has also led to a market in human eggs, in which eugenically correct college-age women are paid huge fees to donate their eggs — a procedure that can leave donors dead, infertile, or seriously ill.
IVF has led to childbirth as manufacture, with our progeny chosen for their genetic makeup.
It is likely that babies will soon be created with three parents. What comes next is anybody’s guess.
2. The Bush embryonic-stem-cell funding policy.
When Pres. George W. Bush signed an executive order restricting federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research to lines already in existence on Aug. 9, 2001, he set off a nearly decade-long firestorm.
It wasn’t that the NIH didn’t fund ESCR during the Bush years: It did to the tune of nearly $200 million.
California passed Proposition 71, authorizing $3 billion in bond money to be spent on ESCR and human-cloning research over ten years. Other states and private philanthropies also funded the research.
Indeed, a study published by the Rockefeller Institute reported that $2 billion–plus was put into ESCR from private and public sources during the Bush years.
So what was the fuss all about? Yes, the policy inconvenienced researchers, requiring, for example, that experiments on “Bush qualified” ESC lines be segregated from non-qualified research. And yes, the limited number of authorized lines may have dissuaded some researchers from entering the field.
But the real poke in the eye for the Science Establishment and liberal media was that Bush’s policy sent a clarion message that embryos — which are, after all, nascent human life — matter, thrusting his policy into a buzz saw involving our most touchy cultural issues, particularly abortion.
Ironically, Bush repeatedly expressed his confidence that scientists could find ways to obtain the benefits of ESCR without destroying embryos.
That prediction appeared to come true in 2007 with the creation of induced-pluripotent stem cells, which are made from normal skin or other tissues.
With the potential of IPSCs to do most of what scientists said they wanted from ESCR, the stem-cell issue lost its political potency.
Thus, when President Obama revoked the Bush policy, it was something of an anticlimax.
But look for the issue to be revived in all its emotional force in the next decade if scientists learn to reliably clone human embryos.
1. The dehydration of Terri Schiavo.
The emotionally wrenching tug of war over the life of Terri Schiavo, covered sensationally by the international media and culminating in her slow death, was — hands down — the decade’s most important story in bioethics (as well of one of the most important stories of the early 2000s).
Who hasn’t heard her name? Who doesn’t have an opinion about what happened? For a seeming eternity, the world groaned and argued bitterly about the weighty moral question of whether it is right to deprive a human being of food and water because he or she is profoundly cognitively impaired.
Nearly five years after her death, we are not over it yet.
Whenever a “miraculous awakening” story is reported, our minds and the media’s pens immediately come back to the question of whether that case is somehow “different” from Terri Schiavo’s.
It hasn’t stopped there. With Terri dead and buried, and with majority poll support, some of the most notable voices within bioethics and transplant medicine openly argue that persistently unconscious patients should, with consent of family, have their organs harvested — which results in death — or be used in research as if they were actually dead.
And with Obamacare coming full throttle, the question of whether the expenses required to care for these most helpless patients will continue to be borne has become a subject of acute bioethical attention.
Hubert Humphrey (among others) once said that a society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. That truism explains why the Terri Schiavo case was far more than a personal and family tragedy: It was a modern-day passion play from which we are still reeling.
What do these stories tell us about ourselves and our society?
The signals are mixed.
First, we are in danger of supplanting human exceptionalism — belief in the intrinsic dignity and equality of human life — with a “quality-of-life ethic” in which some of us are deemed to matter more than others.
But the path to such a brave new world is proving to be neither straight nor unimpeded.
Indeed, there are encouraging signs the sanctity of life could make a comeback.
This much is sure: Bioethics will continue to matter profoundly in the years and decades to come.
Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and consults for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide and the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His book A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy will be released later this month by Encounter Books.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Let’s see: how many stories have you seen in the news about embryonic stem cells helping even one human being? Uh . . . none. And, how many stories have you seen about adult stem cells helping humans? Hundreds. Do you see a pattern developing here? And, today there’s another story in the news about adult stem cells.
Friday, 24 April 2009
I came across two studies released just this week that give me even more reasons to oppose the morally-flawed idea of killing embryos for embryonic stem cell research. The first study describes how scientists have created embryonic-like stem cells using proteins instead of genes. In the second study, researchers announced this week that they’ve developed a technique to grow artificial blood vessels from patients’ own skin cells. So, why are we even considering embryonic stem cells?
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
New research using adult stem cells is showing further insulin independence for Type 1 diabetes patients. The study, led by Richard Burt of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, is the second in the last two years to show significant progress in diabetes using the noncontroversial stem cells.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Readers of this blog know the many reasons that we should abandon even considering experimenting with embryonic stem cells. Now, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiovascular surgeon at Columbia University and a regular on Oprah Winfrey’s popular eponymous television program, is agreeing with me that embryonic stem cell research is obsolete.
First-Ever Treatment of Stroke Using Adult Stem Cells (another reason embryonic stem cell research is doomed)
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
In what is believed to be the nation’s first such procedure, doctors in Texas were able to successfully use adult stem cells from a patient to treat the effects of his stroke. Physicians from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston were involved in the process.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
A listener to one of my interviews on a Chicago Radio Station (WMBI) wrote, “IF adult stem cells are just as good as embryonic cells, why are we all-fired up to use embryonic cells. The simple answer is: (adult stem cells are) NOT just as good. Something you would know if you tried to find out the truth.” Unfortunately, the listener is so very, very wrong. But, instead of reading, once again, my arguments against embryonic stem cell research, let me let you read the comments of Bernadette Healy, MD, the former head of the National Institutes of Health and the Red Cross as she commented on “Why Embryonic Stem Cells Are Obsolete” before and after the President’s decision:
Friday, 20 March 2009
As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m strongly opposed to using embryonic stem cells for research. Primary among my complaints is that using embryonic stem cells requires the death of pre-born human life – in other words, the cells must be stolen from an embryo and this process always results in the death of the embryo. But, there are other ethical and philosophical reasons to oppose embryonic stem cell research. Here’s a well thought out example from columnist and physician Charles Krauthammer.
Monday, 9 March 2009
USA Today reports, “Obama will sign an executive order … lifting limits on human embryonic stem cell research and will direct federal agencies to ‘restore scientific integrity’ to decision-making, White House aides said Sunday.” ABC and NBC reported the story last night, while CBS ran a very brief newscast due to sports coverage. Some will say this is in essence an order to murder embryos. Why would they say this? Where’s the bad news in this story?
Healing for the Holidays: Adult Stem Cell Research Still Outpaces Embryonic by Miles and Miles and Miles …
Friday, 28 November 2008
Today we seem to be floating on a tattered raft of bad news, but this is a week for Thanksgiving, and it seems only right to note that for all the trouble we face, we live in the most blessed times in human history. This is also an extraordinary era for medicine. As we count our blessings this week, consider what one field – adult stem cell research and therapy – is accomplishing for human healing.
Friday, 21 November 2008
In the past few days, we’ve barely been able to keep up with the flood of articles about the progress with adult stem cells. The headlines read like medical miracles: “Doctors transplant windpipe with woman’s own stem cells“; “Bone marrow stem cells restore hearing, vision in animals“; “Researchers to use patient’s own stem cells to treat heart failure“; and “Mother-of-two becomes first transplant patient to receive a whole organ transplant grown from her own stem cells.” And those were all articles published just THIS week!
Monday, 11 August 2008
CitizenLink is reporting that stem cells created ethically from adult cells are allowing researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute to watch the development of 10 genetic disorders in a lab dish.
Friday, 27 June 2008
CitizenLink.org is reporting that two Canadians have been injected with a genetically modified version of their own adult stem cells in an attempt to cure pulmonary hypertension, a rare, debilitating lung disease. The procedure, which has successfully cured rats with pulmonary hypertension, has halted the progress of the disease in the patients. The first patient, who has had the disease for 13 years, is reporting no ill effects from the treatment and has seen her condition improve.
Monday, 23 June 2008
CitizenLink is reporting that researchers at the University of North Carolina have used adult stem cells to improve the healing of broken bones in mice.
Dawn Vargo, bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said: “Although this particular treatment is still being tested in mice, it might soon be added to the long list of adult stem-cell treatments successfully used in people suffering from debilitating.”
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
In a stunning news story, “Scientists Admit Embryonic Stem Cell Research Hasn’t Been Successful,” Lord Patel of Dunkeld, the chairman of the United Kingdom National Stem Cell Network and a chancellor at Dundee University, says “embryonic stem cell research is simply not working.”
As I’ve pointed out in media interviews for years, embryonic stem cell research has not been used to help a single person and is siphoning off research dollars that could be used to further adult stem cell research.