Someone should tell Michael J. Fox:
There is no known cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But new hope, in the form of stem cells created from the patient’s own bone marrow, can be found ― and literally seen ― in laboratories at Tel Aviv University.
Dr. Yoram Cohen of TAU’s School of Chemistry has recently proven the viability of these innovative stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, using in-vivo MRI. Dr. Cohen has been able to track their progress within the brain, and initial studies indicate they can identify unhealthy or damaged tissues, migrate to them, and potentially repair or halt cell degeneration. His findings have been reported in the journal Stem Cells.
“By monitoring the motion of these cells, you get information about how viable they are, and how they can benefit the tissue,” he explains. “We have been able to prove that these stem cells travel within the brain, and only travel where they are needed. They read the chemical signalling of the tissue, which indicate areas of stress. And then they go and try to repair the situation.”…
Dr. Cohen and his team of researchers took magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and used them to label the stem cells they tested. When injected into the brain, they could then be identified as clear black dots on an MRI picture. The stem cells were then injected into the brain of an animal that had an experimental model of Huntington’s disease. These animals suffer from a similar neuropathology as the one seen in human Huntington’s patients, and therefore serve as research tool for the disease.
On MRI, it was possible to watch the stem cells migrating towards the diseased area of the brain. “Cells that go toward a certain position that needs to be rescued are the best indirect proof that they are live and viable,” explains Dr. Cohen. “If they can migrate towards the target, they are alive and can read chemical signalling.”…
Although there is a drawback to using this particular type of stem cell ― the higher degree of difficulty involved in rendering them “neuron-like” ― the benefits are numerous. “Bone marrow-derived MSCs bypass ethical and production complications,” says Dr. Cohen, “and in the long run, the cells are less likely to be rejected because they come from the patients themselves. This means you don’t need immunosuppressant therapy.”
Adult Stem Cell Awareness has joined the “Twitterverse.” Please follow us to get the latest ASCA updates: www.twitter.com/ASCAwareness
No doubt about it, it’s a somber period for those of us who care about “ethical” bio-ethics – the course we have set ourselves upon is frightening. I for one don’t know whether to laugh or cry half the time, but this one did make me laugh:
Stem Cell Research Making Great Strides
Still Needs Some Improvements By Thomas Hagey
On location in Guelph, Ontario
Researchers at the University of Guelph have made a great contribution to the world of horse racing; however, they still have room for improvement in the controversial stem cell research arena.
When heartbroken Italian construction magnate Catelli Buttchelli begged the stem cell research department at the U of G one early summer morning to try to grow a whole horse from just a head, they knew they had their work cut out for them. continue
Stem cell policy shift brings a sinking feeling
12:07 PM CDT, March 14, 2009
When President Barack Obama signed his executive order to allow human embryos to be mined for their stem cells in order to help older, more powerful humans, there was much excited applause.
The applause came from so many, their eyes bright, lit as if from within. It came from those who believe in scientific progress as the answer to the problems of the modern world, believing as fervently as any monk on the slopes of Mt. Athos believes in the Resurrection of Christ.
In signing the order last week, the president said that the Bush administration, which strictly limited such research, had offered a false choice between science and morality. He said his new order “is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda—and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”
There it was. Ideology, a pejorative applied to faith, offered up during Lent by our president. continue
CNN recently spoke with Leiden University Professor of Developmental Biology, Christine Mummery, who is excited about the anticipated Obama effect on science and research, particularly in the area of pharmacology and drug development. Present U.S. policy, which prohibits the use of human embryos in any lab that receives federal funding, is burdonsome, she opines:
“What’s happened in the U.S. is that people have become very frustrated and a lot of private initiatives — like the Harvard Stem Cell Institute — were started up to circumvent the lack of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. NIH researchers are either left behind or have a huge administrative burden,” Mummery said.
“You go into a lab in the States and they say; ‘this is our NIH lab, and this is our other lab’. They have to buy one microscope to look at NIH lines and another to look at other lines. They have to administer all the stem cells separately. There are even dotted lines in a lab which you can and cannot cross. It’s completely ridiculous,” she said.
Mummery hopes the process of drug development will be dramatically expedited once testing on cells from human embryos can replace testing on animals. Some animal welfare advocates are excited about the anticipated promising shift away from research on live animals. (Never mind the “vivisection” of live human embryos).
Yet, even as Mummery concedes, all these anticipated benefits don’t necessarily require the destruction of human embryos. Progress with IPSC’s should offer human cells and tissue for testing and while this won’t completely eliminate the need for live animal testing, it could minimize it. Interestingly, back home in the Netherlands at Mummery’s own lab, it is research with adult stem cells which have made an impact – Stem Cells Train Heart Following Heart Attack, Do we really need tiny, pulsing masses.
The New York Times interviewed Professor Renee A. Reijo Pero, who is director of Stanford’s Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education about her work in infertility research. Cells are culled from embryos to produce sperm and egg cells. These, she hopes, will one day be used to create new embryos . . . which will likely be destroyed as well . . . all to assist those who cannot conceive or carry babies. Upside down, isn’t it?
Read Using Embryos to Put Fertility First
This article takes less than five minutes to read – a great one to share with others. Obviously those involved with research on these victims subjects were, themselves, guilty of horrible atrocities. But what we don’t think much about is the desensitization of the conscience of the larger scientific community which seamlessly incorporated the results of such immoral research.
We must wonder if the larger scientific community in our day – even if not directly involved in the use and destruction of human embryos – will offer any resistance or moral objections to the research presented to them once federal funding is again restored to fetal tissue and embryonic stem cell research. What will be the repercussions of such desensitization? From the article about science under Nazism:
Yet once you dig a little deeper, what is so disturbing is how prosaic the reality was, how similar in form, if not content, their work was to the research of today. As I discovered when researching a history of the Nazis at war, much of what scientists did under the Third Reich was regarded as “normal science”, subject to standard protocols of peer review in conferences and journals.
Wesley Smith just blogged a great story about pediatric heart valves generated from umbilical cord cells. Those in the field of pediatric cardiology have been interested in the application of this research to real patients – and the time has come.
One wonders if the Obama administration is aware of these advances? In a time of financial crisis – and impending policies that are morally offensive – one hopes that our tax dollars will go to this type of research and therapy, and not toward embryonic stem cell research.
See also: Vessels, and Valves, and Veins, Oh My!, For some of us, February 14th is not about candy, Where the Real Booming Stem Cell Business Is
The Vatican has fired a warning shot over the bows of Barack Obama in response to the President-elect’s intention to lift the US ban on embryonic stem cell research.
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan of Mexico, who acts as the Vatican health minister, said that stem cells taken from human embryos and involving the destruction of the embryos “serve no purpose”.
Asked whether the Vatican was concerned about reports that Mr Obama might reverse the Bush Administration’s ban, the cardinal said that embryonic stem cell research had not resulted in any significant health cure so far and was “good for nothing”.
Research on adult stem cells and umbliical cords had been shown to have “positive value”, by contrast, although even that was not “a panacea for everything.” continue