Wednesday, December 31. 2014
There maybe new hope for the millions of patients worldwide that suffer from multiple sclerosis, better known as MS. MS is a debilitating and progressive disease where a patient’s own immune system attacks the protective covering around the cells of the nervous system. This causes a wide range of varying and unpredictable symptoms including fatigue, decreased mobility, and visual disturbances.
There is no cure for MS. Often patients are put on drugs that suppress the immune system to try and slow progression of the disease.
Researchers have published a study of a handful of MS patients in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology that indicates immunosuppressive drugs in combination with an adult stem cell transplant may significantly improve the treatment. These stem cells came from the patient’s own body, and, in combination with high-dose immunosuppressive therapy, the majority of the 24 patients in the study experienced benefits.
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Friday, November 7. 2014
A new study in mice suggests that the stem cells in breast milk are incorporated into the baby's body. Researchers genetically altered mice with a gene that makes their cells glow red in fluorescent light. Those mice then suckled mice that were not their offspring. The baby mice had the red glowing cells incorporated into all kinds of tissues including the brain, liver and kidneys. New Scientist has the story:
The latest findings, presented at the National Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium in London last week, suggest that in mice at least, breast milk stem cells cross into the offspring's blood from their stomach and play a functional role later in life.The findings suggest that the same is true for humans. Obviously this exact experiment cannot be replicated in humans, but researchers do plan to investigate this finding in primates.
Friday, June 6. 2014
In my life I have been blessed to know many people who have cerebral palsy. When I was a child, Michael, a friend of my parents, would come to visit. My brother and I looked forward to his time with us because of his infectious sense of humor.
Later, when I married my husband, I got to meet his cousin Jay. Jay is confined to a wheel chair but that did not stop him from making me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants. And just around the corner from my house lives Sarah. She cannot speak, but her mother and sister, who was hands down my kids' favorite babysitter, look at her with such love and admiration that I know she communicates effectively without words.
Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Wednesday, December 4. 2013
I have always said that if you want accurate information about stem cell research and its possibilities, you should be reading the business section. Anything else is probably misleading, hyped or even flat out lies. In other words, follow the money. The money will tell you what is truly promising research.
The money is painting a very clear picture of what pro-lifers knew all along: adult stem cells are worth investing in. Embryonic? Well, they haven't lived up to the incessant hype surrounding their potential.
In just a few years, budgets that used to go almost entirely to embryonic stem cell projects are being quietly allocated to adult stem cell research.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Wednesday, September 18. 2013
NeoStem, a New York adult stem cell company that has partnered with the Vatican to increase awareness about adult stem cells, has been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue their work.
NeoStem works with what they call VSELs (Very Small Embryonic Like cells) which are adult cells found in the bone marrow that seem to be pluripotent, or able to become most or all of the cell types in the body.
One of the grants is to study the effect VSELs have on skin wounds in mice that mimic symptoms of scleroderma. Scleroderma is an auto immune disorder that attacks the skin and other organs making them harden. Over 300,000 Americans live with scleroderma.
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Wednesday, July 10. 2013
Two recent news stories signal hope for the treatment of HIV infection with adult stem cells. The first is a story about two men who had stem cell transplants for blood cancers and are now off anti-viral drugs because there is no trace of the HIV virus in either man. From USA Today:
Two HIV-positive patients in the United States who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped anti-retroviral therapy and still show no detectable sign of the HIV virus, researchers said Wednesday.The reason this is news is because these were both stem cell transplants with normal donor stem cells. Previously, another man was cured of an HIV infection with a transplant with cells from a donor that has a rare genetic resistance to HIV infection.
Researchers were quick to stress that such a stem cell transplant would be too costly and complex to treat all HIV positive patients, but this news does give scientists novel ways to approach combating HIV infections.
The second advance is the announcement of a clinical trial that uses gene therapy and and a patient's own adult stem cells. Researchers are taking stem cells from an HIV-infected patient, genetically engineering them to be resistant to the HIV virus, and will then transplant those engineered stem cells back into the patient. From Fort Mill Times:
The HIV gene medicines company Calimmune announced today that the first patient has begun treatment in a Phase I/II clinical trial designed to determine whether a pioneering genetic medicine approach can help to protect individuals infected with HIV from the effects of the virus. The study, “Safety Study of a Dual Anti-HIV Gene Transfer Construct to Treat HIV-1 Infection,” utilizes a gene medicine called Cal-1, developed in the lab of Nobel Laureate Dr. David Baltimore and by Calimmune.This trial has been funded by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) that was originally supposed to fund embryonic stem cell and cloning research but is changing gears and funding more adult stem cell research because adult stem cells are showing more promise in treating actual patients.
Wednesday, May 1. 2013
An adorable two year-old has a new lease on life thanks to pioneering doctors, a charitable Catholic hospital and her own stem cells. Little Hannah Warren was born without a trachea, the passageway that leads to the lungs. Although a tube was inserted from her esophagus to her lungs to help her breath, doctors told her parents that she would likely die.
Hannah is now recovering from a trachea transplant. The trachea was made from a plastic scaffold and stem cells taken from her bone marrow.
Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Tuesday, April 23. 2013
Sometimes in science the best discoveries are those that are unexpected. Researchers in California were trying to get bone marrow stem cells to grow by introducing an antibodies to the cells. Instead the cells began to form neural cells. U.S. News & World Report has the story:
Scientists have discovered an antibody that can turn stem cells from a patient's bone marrow directly into brain cells, a potential breakthrough in the treatment of neurological diseases and injuries.Neural cells straight from your own bone marrow. Remarkable.
Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Friday, April 12. 2013
This week the Vatican is hosting another adult stem cell conference bringing together some of the top scientists in the field. The conference, the second held by the Vatican, is called "Regenerative Medicine – A Fundamental Shift in Science & Culture." It is a collaboration between the Pontifical Council for Culture, NeoStem, an adult stem cell company, STOQ International, a non-profit that encourages dialogue between Church and culture, and The Stem for Life Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to spreading the good news about adult stem cells.
According to Dr. Robin Smith, CEO of NeoStem and President of the Stem For Life Foundation, the conference will focus on the all of the misconceptions surrounding stem cell science. From the conference press release:
"We created this event so that we could educate the world on the ability of adult stem cell therapies to address countless diseases and medical conditions, reducing suffering on a truly global scale," said Dr. Robin Smith, President of The Stem for Life Foundation and CEO of NeoStem. "To tell this story of hope and healing, and to address the many misconceptions surrounding stem cell therapies, we have gathered leaders and pioneers of the regenerative medicine industry, as well as patients who have received adult stem cell therapies, journalists, ethicists, educators, policy experts and religious officials. The human body holds the secrets to healing and this landmark event will sound a clarion call."
Continue reading at Life News >>
Tuesday, November 20. 2012
Dogs are well known for their keen sense of smell. It turns out their noses are good for more than just detecting scent. Scientists in England have isolated cells from the noses of dogs with spinal cord injury and have used those cells to reverse the canines' paralysis.
Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Thursday, August 23. 2012
Autism is as mysterious as it is devastating. Does it have a genetic cause? Is it environmental? Or is there some complex combination of both that derails normal development of communication and social skills.
The treatments for autism are as varied as the patients, since it is often the patient's needs that dictate which treatments are most effective. Some parents have brought their children overseas for stem cell treatments that claim to improve the symptoms of autism.
The FDA has approved a ground-breaking adult stem cell trial in the United States to see if stem cells can in fact help those with autism. Unlike treatments in other countries, this trial will be using cord blood stem cells saved from a child's own umbilical cord. From Scientific American:
A clinical trial being conducted by the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California to address this situation began recruiting participants today for a highly experimental stem cell therapy for autism. The institute plans to find 30 autistic children between ages 2 and 7 with cord blood banked at the privately-run Cord Blood Registry, located about 100 miles west of the institute....It is much too early to suggest that an autologous stem cell transplant will be a cure for autism. Hopefully, the participants in this study will see some improvement. That would spark more research into a stem cell treatment. It will also shed some light on whether it is efficacious for parents to be engaging in stem cell tourism on behalf of their children.
Thursday, August 2. 2012
The United States has arguably the most advanced health care in the world. Which is why many Americans are surprised at how many of our fellow citizens are going abroad for stem cell treatments using their own adult stem cells. This is called an autologous stem cell transplant. So why is this autologous stem cell tourism happening and why are these stem cell treatments we keep hearing about not available in the United States?
Progressives often wrongly imply that it has to do with Bush's restrictions on the funding of embryonic stem cell research. And since there is so much misinformation surrounding stem cell research, the public often believes that this is the case. In reality, this kind of stem cell tourism has absolutely nothing to do with that because these are autologous adult stem cell transplants not embryonic stem cell transplants.
The real reason is more complex than simple funding restrictions. It is because of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA. The FDA has categorized an autologous stem cell transplant as it would a drug and therefore autologous stem cell transplants must go through the same rigorous phase trials that a new drug would. From the FDA Regulation of Stem-Cell–Based Therapies in the New England Journal of Medicine:
Any stem-cell–based product that contains cells or tissues that "are highly processed, are used for other than their normal function, are combined with non-tissue components, or are used for metabolic purposes" — and that includes most, if not all, of them — would also be subject to the Public Health Safety Act, Section 351, which regulates the licensing of biologic products and requires the submission of an investigational new drug application to the FDA before studies involving humans are initiated.So because stem cells would be removed from the body and "processed" with components not from the patient to get them to grow, the FDA has ruled that an autologous stem cell transplant is like a drug.
Others disagree with this assessment basically taking the stance that because the stem cells come from the patient, they should not be considered a drug. From a press release from the former American Stem Cell Therapy Association (ASCTA) which changed its name to The International Cellular Medicine Society (ICMS):
"Many patients are dying or suffering daily with incurable diseases or problems that require major surgery. These patients should have access to basic adult stem cell therapy now." stated Christopher J. Centeno, M.D, an ASCTA physician member. "ASCTA is establishing guidelines which will allow the safe use of the patient's own adult stem cells under the supervision of doctors." continued Centeno. Another ASCTA physician member, Frank Falco, M.D. stated, "The FDA's position against someone using their own stem cells is taking it too far. We are talking about a person using their own tissue to treat a degenerative disorder or process safely without the use of medications or surgery. Although we agree that oversight and standards are necessary, this should be provided through a physician organization such as ASCTA rather than by a government agency."A U.S. District Court has now ruled that the FDA has the authority to regulate clinics in the U.S. that are offering autologous stem cell transplants.
Continue Reading at LifeNews.com >>
Monday, June 25. 2012
With a $5 million gift from alumni Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher, Notre Dame is ramping up its adult stem cell research. From Phys.org:
Alumnus Michael Gallagher and his wife, Elizabeth, have made a $5 million gift to establish the Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Family Professorships in Adult Stem Cell Research at the University of Notre Dame.See no matter how many times advocates, politicians and the media repeat that the Catholic Church is against stem cell research it will not make it true. The Catholic Church is and always has been for stem cell research, the ethical kind whether little human organisms are not ripped apart for their harvestable biological material.
Continue Reading at LifeNews >>
Thursday, June 7. 2012
More proof that the Church is not anti-science. It is anti-unethical science. From Reuters:
A new collaboration has begun between the largest European family adult stem cell bank, Cryo-Save, and Europe's most important Catholic university, "Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore" (UCSC). Policlinico "Gemelli" University Hospital based in Rome, Italy, is part of the UCSC Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and is owned by the Vatican. The partnership aims at promoting and improving knowledge on the cryopreservation of mesenchymal stem cells from the umbilical cord tissue. Both parties strongly believe in the potential of their use.
Friday, June 1. 2012
A Georgia man stepped on a piece of glass and decided to fix the injury himself...with super glue. (I use super glue to fix just about everything, but really?) Not surprisingly, it got infected. Unfortunately for him, his foot was infected with necrotizing fasciitis, more gruesomely known as flesh-eating bacteria. In an attempt to save this man's foot, a podiatrist tried an experimental procedure using stem cells from placenta. From Fox Atlanta:
DALTON, Ga. - A cutting edge procedure in the fight against flesh-eating bacteria could land a Georgia podiatrist in the history books.Awesome. Just awesome. But the last quote leaves a sour taste in my mouth. "...it's not like what they think about stem cells. It's something good."
At the height of the stem cell debates, proponents of embryonic stem cell research (advocates, media, and the like) purposefully tried to blur the line between adult and embryonic stem cells. Their intent was to piggy-back onto the successes in adult stem cells and ride them into embryonic stem cell utopia.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
Wednesday, May 30. 2012
Aniridia is a genetic condition where those that have the genetic mutation are born without all or part of the iris, the part of the eye that controls how much light enters the eye through the pupil. Aniridia is caused by mutations in a gene that codes for a protein that controls eye development. Any mutation in this gene that produces a defective protein will cause aniridia, which means this is a dominant condition. Any person inheriting this mutation from their parent will also have aniridia. So anyone with aniridia has a 50/50 chance of passing this condition onto their children.
The lack of an iris means an inability to control the light that enters the eye. This can cause damage to the cornea, the thin, transparent tissue that covers the pupil. Previously, for a patient to get a new cornea, it would have to be donated from a recently deceased person.
A woman in Scotland who suffers from aniridia has received an adult stem cell transplant to try and repair her left cornea. Sylvia Paton is the first person in the UK to undergo such a treatment. From the Edinburgh Evening News:
A WOMAN who received the UK’s first corneal stem cell transplant today told how her son’s struggle with a hereditary eye condition inspired her to try the treatment.
Continue reading at LifeNews.com >>
Monday, May 14. 2012
Researchers in Australia have found stem cells in breast milk that, like embryonic stem cells, can become many different types of cells in the body. Dr Foteini Hassiotou and the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia have found pluripotent stem cells in human breast milk that they have turned into bone, brain, liver, and pancreatic cells that produce insulin.
Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Wednesday, March 21. 2012
Scientists have always been fascinated by the power of some organisms to regenerate whole body parts. One flatworm, called the planarian, is so good at regeneration that it can be cut up in several pieces and each of those pieces will generate a whole new worm. That regenerative power comes from stem cells that can become the cells that are needed for replacement. Which is why stem cell scientists study the planarian as a model.
Tuesday, February 14. 2012
On the feast of St. Valentine, a story about broken hearts is in order. These broken hearts are not the result of unrequited love but instead due to heart disease.
One doctor is using a patient's own stem cell to fix those broken hearts. Dr. Eduardo Marban and his team of researchers at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles have been able to regenerate heart muscle lost to heart attack. From Fox News:
In a ground-breaking study that may change how heart attacks are treated, Dr. Eduardo Marban and his team used stem cells to re-grow damaged heart muscle. In the 17 patients who received the therapy, Marban measured an average 50 percent reduction in the size of the scar tissueThere is a reason Dr. Marban is using adult stem cells. He is Catholic; as is his wife Linda. They are both committed to healing without the destruction of innocent human life. From the Catholic Sentinel:
“I come from a culture that’s deeply Catholic,” said Eduardo Marban, who came to the United States from Cuba with his parents when he was 6 years old. “For me, that we could develop a treatment that was not ethically problematic, that was consistent with the Hippocratic Oath and the tenets of Catholicism, was very gratifying. We not only get a unique chance to do good, but we do it without trampling on anyone’s ethical principles.”
Tuesday, January 10. 2012
More great news in the adult stem cell field. Researchers from the University of Illinois have reported they have improved insulin production in people with type 1 diabetes. It is thought that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease meaning that something causes the patient's white blood cells to attack the pancreas cells that produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. These researchers took the patient's blood and circulated it with cord blood stem cells that reprogrammed the patient's white blood cells, called lymphocytes. The blood was reintroduced to the patient and insulin production increased enough to be able to reduce the amount of insulin the patient needed to take in order to regulate their blood sugar levels. They call this technique the "Stem Cell Educator." From the press release:
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's own immune system attacking its pancreatic islet beta cells and requires daily injections of insulin to regulate the patient's blood glucose levels. A new method described in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine uses stem cells from cord blood to re-educate a diabetic's own T cells and consequently restart pancreatic function reducing the need for insulin.
Photo of epidermolysis bullosa from SockMonkeyClothing.com a clothing retailer for children with skin disorders
The lesions that once blanketed Charlie's small frame have largely receded. Just a few patches of fragile skin remain, and those are carefully wrapped with bandages that once entombed most of Charlie's body....Good luck to the Knuths and Seth! We wish them all the best.
Monday, December 5. 2011
Dr. Peter Hollands is a researcher at the University of Westminster in London and he attended the Vatican sponsored conference on stem cell research held in November. He gave an interview with the National Catholic Reporter where he illustrated the practical reasons everyone can oppose embryonic stem cell research. In essence, the old adage, "Work smarter, not harder." Hollands responds to the NCR's question on why researchers want to work with embryonic stem cells:
I don’t know if there’s anything to learn from embryonic stem cells, but it’s the objections to their use [that’s the problem].That sentiment was echoed by none other than Ian Wilmut, one of the scientists that sparked this frenzy when he cloned Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. At a recent conference on stem cell research in California, he urged researchers to shift away from embryonic stem cells and work with direct programming, a technique that directly converts one adult cell type to another skipping the pluripotent (embryonic-like) stage. It is the pluripotent nature of stem cells that causes them to become tumors so taking one fully differentiated cell like a skin cell and turning it directly into another like a nerve cell bypasses the dangerous aspects of pluripotency. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent by nature. The North County Times reports:
Newer and safer forms of stem cell therapy will likely overtake research into the use of human embryonic stem cells, the scientist whose team cloned Dolly the sheep told his peers at a stem cell conference in La Jolla.Add in the abandonment by Geron of one of the scant 2 human trials with embryonic-derived cells and one would think that you could hear the death knells of embryo destructive research. And yet the cries for funds to destroy human lives for their pluripotent stem cells continues. If it were really about cures, by now everyone should see that growing potatoes on the moon is a ridiculous notion when we have perfectly good fields right here on earth.
Monday, November 14. 2011
Wednesday, October 26. 2011
I posted yesterday about the Vatican's new collaboration with NeoStem to promote adult stem cell research. One of the projects is a stem cell conference in Rome. It is by invitation only and there are only 350 seats and guess what? One of the readers of this blog is attending! (You cannot see my face but it is a unbecoming shade of green! )
Monday, October 24. 2011
...the Vatican recently signed a $1-million compact with [Dr. Robin] Smith's New York company, NeoStem, to collaborate on adult stem cell education and research.Please consider putting your money where you mouth is as well and donate to the Stem for Life Foundation. From their website:
The Stem for Life Foundation (SFLF) is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization established to increase public education in all areas of adult stem cell research and application, to encourage and support the field of research involving adult stem cells, and to provide medicine’s most-vulnerable populations with access to cutting-edge adult stem cell technologies.
Tuesday, September 20. 2011
The United States has arguably the most advanced health care in the world. Which is why I was surprised at how many Americans are going abroad for stem cell treatments using their own adult stem cells. This is called an autologous stem cell transplant. I read nearly everyday about patients going to China, India and Germany to get treated for anything from spinal cord injuries to autism. It has even been reported that Peyton Manning went to Europe recently to get a stem cell treatment for his neck. I also have read about patients who reside in these countries getting treatments for brain injury to type II diabetes with impressive results. The Repair Stem Cell Institute which refers patients to what they say are reputable stem cell treatment centers around the world has a list of diseases being treated with autologous stem cell transplants that is a mile long.
The real answer is simple: because of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA. The FDA has categorized an autologous stem cell transplant as it would a drug and therefore autologous stem cell transplants must go through the same rigorous phase trials that a new drug would. From the FDA Regulation of Stem-Cell–Based Therapies in the New England Journal of Medicine:
Any stem-cell–based product that contains cells or tissues that "are highly processed, are used for other than their normal function, are combined with non-tissue components, or are used for metabolic purposes" — and that includes most, if not all, of them — would also be subject to the Public Health Safety Act, Section 351, which regulates the licensing of biologic products and requires the submission of an investigational new drug application to the FDA before studies involving humans are initiated.
So because stem cells would be removed from the body and "processed" with components not from the patient to get them to grow, the FDA has ruled that an autologous stem cell transplant is like a drug.
Of course, there are those who disagree with this assessment basically taking the stance that because the stem cells come from the patient, they should not be considered a drug. From a press release from the former American Stem Cell Therapy Association (ASCTA) which changed its name to The International Cellular Medicine Society (ICMS):
"Many patients are dying or suffering daily with incurable diseases or problems that require major surgery. These patients should have access to basic adult stem cell therapy now." stated Christopher J. Centeno, M.D, an ASCTA physician member. "ASCTA is establishing guidelines which will allow the safe use of the patient's own adult stem cells under the supervision of doctors." continued Centeno. Another ASCTA physician member, Frank Falco, M.D. stated, "The FDA's position against someone using their own stem cells is taking it too far. We are talking about a person using their own tissue to treat a degenerative disorder or process safely without the use of medications or surgery. Although we agree that oversight and standards are necessary, this should be provided through a physician organization such as ASCTA rather than by a government agency."Now, I want to make something clear. I am not a doctor so I am not qualified to speak on whether or not autologous stem cell transplants are safe or whether the FDA regulations are appropriate. I am not advocating either position, I simply want my readers to understand the reasons why the United States is not offering the same adult stem cell treatments as other countries around the world and why American patients are seeking adult stem cell treatments elsewhere.
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