Adult Stem Cell Awareness

November 8, 2007

Q & A with Dr. Dan

Filed under: adult stem cell awareness — benotafraid @ 11:24 pm

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Dr. Dan has offered responses to a few of our questions. Thanks to those who submitted both questions and answers and thanks especially to Dr. Dan who has taken time out of his busy schedule to keep us informed. We hope to do this once a month, so send in your questions for the next Q & A.

Question #1 submitted by Rob:

Having cared for an elderly relative with dementia, and now caring for my son with Down Syndrome, I have a natural interest in the human brain and how it works, and sometimes doesnt. What are the chances of stem cells being used to help with restoring damaged parts of the brain in say 30 or 50 years time do you think? What would be the ethical issues of using donor tissue – or even cloned animal/human hybrid tissue – in this respect?

Hi Rob,

Let me answer your first question in which you ask “what are the chances of stem cells treating damaged brains in the next 30-50 years”. A recent study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience in which Mathew Blurton-Jones from the University of California, Irvine transplanted stem cells into mice who had memory loss due to lab-induced injury. The results indicated a significant improvement in recovered memory. You can read more about this study by searching ‘Mathew Blurton-Jones and mice memory’.

I see no problem using donor tissue as long as it is obtained from ethical sources. As for tissue from animal-human hybrids, I feel that this is pushing the ethical envelope. The issue of human-animal hybrids is much more complex than what may appear on the surface.

Q#2 was submitted by me. I asked:

Dr. Dan, I have question, er – maybe three! Who controls clinical trials . . . is it the FDA or the NIH? Why do some projects get approval faster than others? Will the Patient First Act have the power to really expedite clinical trials, etc?

Reader, Bink commented with an answer and Dr. Dan follows up with:

The comments by “bink” that appear after your questions about who controls clinical trials should help. “bink” appears much (more) knowledgeable about the protocol fo clinical trials. Thanks “bink”.

 Q#3 was submitted by Shelray:

We typically hear a lot of “hoopla” surrounding the alleged superiority of embryonic stem cells over that of adult stem cells as it relates to the potential for curing diseases and spinal chord injuries. I am aware that adult stem cells are in fact improving the lives of patients as we now speak, but how far is the embryonic stem cell research from providing tangible proof that “they” can indeed provide a cure of any kind?

Shelray,

Although I do not have a ‘crystal ball’ which allows me to predict the future of embryonic stem cell research with any certainty, I do not think embryonic stem cells are going to heal anyone in the next 10-20 years and perhaps not even in our lifetime. ESC’s present too many obstacles such as production of wrong cell types, creation of cancerous tumors, genetic mutations, and rejection which researchers have not been able to overcome. Many comments are surfacing from within the ESC community itself suggesting the unfounded hype and sensationalism surrounding these cells.

Dr. Dan

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