Scientific Experts Agree:
Embryonic Stem Cells
Are Unnecessary for Medical Progress
"A team of Texas and British researchers says it has produced large amounts of embryoniclike stem cells from umbilical cord blood, potentially ending the ethical debate affecting stem-cell research -- the need to kill human embryos. The international researchers said the cells -- called cord-blood-derived-embryoniclike stem cells, or CBEs -- have the ability to turn into any kind of body tissue, like embryonic stem cells do, and can be mass-produced using technology derived from NASA....
"Scientists believe the ability to replicate tissue could lead to the development of ways to replace organs as well as treat life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which have been the focus of stem-cell research."
-- J. Price, "Advance made in stem-cell debate," The Washington Times, August 20, 2005, www.washingtontimes.com/national/20050820-122747-2417r.htm
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"Various studies that have been conducted around the world, including a limited number performed in the United States, have suggested that when patients with heart failure receive stem cells taken from their bone marrow, their hearts show signs of improved function and recovery."
-- "Stem Cells With Heart Bypass Surgery Trial To Begin At University Of Pittsburgh," ScienceDaily, August 25, 2005, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050825070117.htm
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A study on acute renal failure in animals, from Christof Westenfelder of University of Utah:
"In a new study, Westenfelder's team reported that injecting stem cells similar to the type used in bone marrow transplants is 'highly renoprotective, showing almost immediate improvement in both kidney function and degree of tissue injury, followed by accelerated regeneration and return of function,' he said."
-- The American Physiological Society, "Score One For 'Adult' Stem Cells: First Real Progress In Acute Renal Failure Therapy Shows Fast, Broad Results," August 16, 2005, www.the-aps.org/press/journal/05/13.htm.
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"New surgery which has apparently helped some paraplegics walk could be performed in Dunedin later this year as part of an international trial, a city neurosurgeon says.
"The surgery used stem cells from the patients' noses to partially repair their spinal cords, Dunedin Hospital neurosurgeon and Professor of Bioethics Grant Gillett said yesterday."
-- "New surgery for paraplegics could be done in Dunedin," Stuff (New Zealand), August 9, 2005, www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3371428a7144,00.html
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"Researchers in Boston have isolated a kind of cell from human bone marrow that they say has all the medical potential of human embryonic stem cells....
"Tufts University researchers used specialized cell-sorting machines to pluck the peculiar cells from samples of bone marrow obtained from different donors. Tests suggested the cells are capable of morphing into many, and perhaps all, of the various kinds of cells that make up the human body. ...
"When a batch of the newly identified marrow cells were injected into the hearts of rats that had experienced heart attacks, some of the cells turned into new heart muscle while others became new blood vessels to support the ailing hearts. ...
"'I think embryonic stem cells are going to fade in the rearview mirror of adult stem cells,' said Douglas W. Losordo, the Tufts cardiologist who left the effort.... Bone marrow, he said, 'is like a repair kit. Nature provided us with these tools to repair organ damage.'"
-Rick Weiss, "Marrow Has Cells Like Stem Cells, Tests Show," Washington Post, Feburary 2, 2005, p. A3, at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55369-2005Feb1.html.
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"[Erica] Nader, 26, of Farmington Hills, Mich., was the first American to travel to Portugal, in March 2003, for experimental sugery for spinal cord injury. She was injured in July 2001 in an auto accident... She was paralyzed from the top of her arms down.
"In the procedure...a team of doctors opened Nader's spinal cord to clear out any scar tissue.... Then, using a long tube, they took a sample of olfactory mucosal cells from the ridge of her nose.... These cells are among the body's richest supply of adult stem cells and are capable of becoming any type of cell, depending on where they are implanted. In this case, these adult stem cells were to take on the job of neurons, or nerve cells, once implanted in the spinal cord at the site of an injury. ...
"And after three years, magnetic imaging resonance tests show that the cells indeed promote the development of new blood cells and synapses, or connections between nerve cells, says Dr. Carlos Lima, chief of the Lisbon team. ...
"Dr. Pratas Vital, one of two neurosurgeons on the team, calls the transplanted cells spinal cord autografts, a term that indicates the cells come from a person's own body, not fetal or embryonic stem cells. ...
"[Erica] is much stronger and much more capable of lifting her arms, bending her knees on a slanted exercise board and standing erect. ... Once, she was paralyzed from her biceps down. Now, she can push herself off an exercise ball, do arm lifts and help raise herself off a floor mat. ... In the past six weeks, she's started to walk in leg braces with a walker or on a treadmill."
-Patricia Anstett, "Paraplegic improving after stem-cell implant," The Indianapolis Star, January 16, 2005, at www.indystar.com/articles/5/209449-5235-047.html.
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"PharmaFrontiers has an exclusive contract to develop stem cells that are created from monocyte white blood cells taken from adult blood donations....
"Stem cell treatment for diabetes and heart failure should be commercially available in five to six years, company CEO Dave McWilliams said. 'The technology actually allows us to change the cells to stem cells and then change them into any type of cell we want,' he said.' ...
"There is no one in the United States currently working on any treatment studies using embryonic stem cells, McWilliams said."
-Burton Speakman, "Woodlands firm develops adult stem cells," The Courier Online (Montgomery County; Houston, TX), December 26, 2004, at www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1574&dept_id=532218&newsid=13627357&PAG=461&rfi=9.
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"[E]vidence from three different labs – the University of Minnesota, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, and Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago – have found three different ASCs [adult stem cells] that may be completely plastic. ... As the team leader at the Robert Wood Johnson School, Ira Black, told me, 'In aggregate, our study and various others do support the idea that one [adult stem cell] can give rise to all types of tissue.' ...
-Michael Fumento, "The Adult Answer," National Review Online, December 20, 2004, at www.nationalreview.com/comment/fumento200412200902.asp.
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"Scientists have transplanted adult stem cells from the bone marrow of rats into the brains of rat embryos and found that thousands of the cells survive into adulthood, raising the possibility that someday developmental abnormalities could be prevented or treated in the womb.
"Dr. Ira Black, chairman of the department of neuroscience at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said the cells took on the properties of brain cells, migrating to specific regions and taking up characteristics of neighboring cells. ...
"Black and his colleagues used a specific type of bone marrow cell called a stromal cell, taken from the leg bones of adult rats. 'We see this potentially as an appropriate treatment for prenatal disease, mental retardation and congenital conditions,' Black said. The hope is that a patient's own bone barrow might someday be the source for replacing brain cells lost to illness and brain trauma, experts say, eliminating the need to use human embryonic stem cells.
"In a separate study, Dr. Alexander Storch of the University of Ulm, Germany, recently took bone marrow and stromal cells from six healthy people and converted the cells into immature neural stem cells. ... 'A single cell culture could grow all major brain cell types,' said Storch, who used specific growth factors to help them differentiate. ...Storch is now transplanting the cells into mice with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and stroke symptoms. In the stroke study, the labeled adult stromal cells migrated to the area surrounding the stroke damage, he said. They had all of the chemical, electrical and functional properties of brain cells."
-Jamie Talan, "Stem cell transplant a success," Newsday, May 12, 2004, at http://www.mult-sclerosis.org/news/May2004/SuccessfulRatStemCellTransplant.html.
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"'Cord blood stem cells have the same capacity to cure disease as do embryonic stem cells, as they can become any cell in the body...,' said Dr. William Schmidt, Jr., an oncologist with the Charleston Cancer Center in N. Charleston, SC.
"'The use of umbilical cord blood stem cells in the treatment of disease is one of the most prominent advancements in medicine today. Developments in this field will revolutionize medicine and disease treatment,' said Dr. [Roger] Markwald [Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Medical University of South Carolina]."
-Press Release, "CureSource Issues Statement on Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells vs. Embryonic Stem Cells," May 12, 2004, at http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/altavista/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20040512005909&newsLang=en.
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"BioE, a biotechnology company that develops antibody-based technology platforms used in the development of therapeutics and diagnostics, announced...it has isolated and defined a unique population of stem cells....
"During the past year, BioE confirmed the existence of these new multilineage progenitor cells (MLPCs) by demonstrating repeatedly their ability to self-renew, expand exponentially and differentiate into a wide variety of tissue types – including bone, nerve and muscle. ...
"The discovery of these MLPCs in umbilical cord blood opens up a huge untapped source of stem cells for potential use in regenerative medicine."
-Press Release, "BioE Defines New Population of Multilineage Stem Cells in Umbilical Cord Blood," May 11, 2004, at http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/040511/115796_1.html.
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"California scientists have found that neural stem cells can target and track deadly brain tumor cells. ...The discovery by researchers at Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute in Los Angeles means that neural stem cells may someday be effective 'delivery systems' to transport cancer-killing gene and immune products. ...
"'We have previously demonstrated the uncanny ability of neural stem cells to seek out and destroy satellites of tumor cells in the brain,' said John S. Yu, senior author of the study and co-director of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program a Cedars-Sinai. '...With this knowledge, we hope to expedite the translation of this powerful and novel strategy for the clinical benefit of patients with brain tumors.'"
-Press release, "Neural stem cells may help fight cancer," May 5, 2004, at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_17570.html.
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"'We're not trying to change the [adult stem] cells in any way before we put them in the body. These are very early precursor cells. They have the potential to become almost anything, and they adapt quickly once they're inside,' said [Tulane University Center for Gene Therapy research professor Dr. Brian] Butcher. Tests on rats with damaged spines have shown that cell growth occurs in the spine [after adult stem cell injection] and allows the animals to walk again. ...
"Using adult stem cells sidesteps some of the legal and ethical issues involved in using fetal...or embryonic stem cells.... And there may be other benefits as well. 'We're not against stem-cell research of any kind,' said Butcher. 'But we think there are advantages to using adult stem cells. For example, with embryonic stem cells, a significant number become cancer cells, so the cure could be worse than the disease. And they can be very difficult to grow, while adult stem cells are very easy to grow.'
"But perhaps the biggest advantage to adult stem cells is that they sidestep immunological concerns because the cells used to treat a patient come from his or her own body."
-Heather Heilman, "Great Transformations," The Tulanian, Spring 2004, at http://www2.tulane.edu/article_news_details.cfm?ArticleID=5155.
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"Had a major heart attack? In the not-too-distant future, doctors may be able to use stem cells to regenerate damaged heart muscle. And here's the exciting part: They can do it using stem cells that aren't extracted from human embryos.
"[G]iven the controversy over harvesting cells from embryos, doctors have been exploring other possibilities. The payoff: A team from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently repaired heart muscles in animals by injecting them with stem cells extracted from human blood. It's the stem-cell equivalent of Columbus reaching America: Not only would cells harvested from one's own body eliminate the risk that they would be rejected, but obtaining them would be a simple, painless proposition.
"'This work gives us a way to get the cells that's as easy as giving a blood sample,' says Edward Yeh, M.D., lead author of the study. The real mind boggler is what the stem cells might mean to the 1.2 million Americans who suffer heart attacks each year."
-Special Report, "Good news about bad things that happen to your parents," USA Weekend magazine, March 5-7, 2004, p. 6, at www.usaweekend.com/04_issues/040307/040307aging.html#heart.
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"A group of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute has identified a small synthetic molecule that can induce a cell to undergo dedifferentiation—to move backwards developmentally from its current state to form its own precursor cell.
"This compound, named reversine, causes cells which are normally programmed to form muscles to undergo reverse differentiation—retreat along their differentiation pathway and turn into precursor cells. These precursor cells are multipotent; that is, they have the potential to become different cell types. Thus, reversine represents a potentially useful tool for generating unlimited supply of such precursors, which subsequently can be converted to other cell types, such as bone or cartilage.
"'This [type of approach] has the potential to make stem cell research more practical,' says Sheng Ding, Ph.D. 'This will allow you to derive stem-like cells from your own mature cells, avoiding the technical and ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells.'"
- Press Release, "Regenerative Chemical Turns Muscle Cells into Stem Cells, Say Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute," December 22, 2003, at www.scripps.edu/news/press/122203.html
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"Scientists in Canada have turned adult skin cells into the building blocks of brain cells --opening the way for their use in new therapies for such incurable diseases. The discovery, by a team at the University of Toronto, is particularly exciting as it promises to provide a readily accessible and ethically neutral source of neural stem cells -- the precursors of nerve and brain tissue.
"While other groups have managed to create these cells before, they have generally required the use of adult stem cells from bone marrow, which are difficult and painful to extract, or embryonic stem cells, which require the destruction of a human embryo.
"If the Toronto technique is perfected for clinical use it would allow neural stem cells to be made from a patient's skin, ensuring a perfect genetic match that would not be rejected by the body. The cells would then be transplanted into the brains of people with neurological disorders, to replace, for example, the specialized dopamine neurons that are lost in Parkinson's disease."
-Oliver Wright, "Patients' Own Skin Cells Turned into Potential Alzheimer's Treatment," The Times (London), December 10, 2003, Home News, p. 8.
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"Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have harnessed newly discovered cells from an unexpected source, the spleen, to cure juvenile diabetes in mice, a surprising breakthrough that could soon be tested in local patients and open a new chapter in diabetes research...
"'This shows there might be a whole new type of therapy that we haven't tapped into,' said Dr. Denise Faustman, MGH immunology lab director and lead author of the new study, which appears today in the journal Science. 'We've figured out how to regrow an adult organ'."
-R. Mishra, "Juvenile diabetes cured in lab mice," The Boston Globe, November 14, 2003, p. A2.
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"There is now an emerging recognition that the adult mammalian brain, including that of primates and humans, harbours stem cell populations suggesting the existence of a previously unrecognised neural plasticity to the mature CNS [central nervous system], and thereby raising the possibility of promoting endogenous neural reconstruction... Since large numbers of stem cells can be generated efficiently in culture, they may obviate some of the technical and ethical limitations associated with the use of fresh (primary) embryonic neural tissue in current transplantation strategies."
-T. Ostenfeld and C. Svendsen, "Recent advances in stem cell neurobiology," Advances and Technical Standards in Neurosurgery, vol. 28 (2003), p. 3.
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"Stem cells in our bone marrow usually develop into blood cells, replenishing our blood system. However, in states of emergency, the destiny of some of these stem cells may change: They can become virtually any type of cell – liver cells, muscle cells, nerve cells – responding to the body's needs. Prof. Tsvee Lapidot and Dr. Orit Kollet of the Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department have found how the liver, when damaged, sends a cry for help to these stem cells. 'When the liver becomes damaged, it signals to stem cells in the bone marrow, which rush to it and help in its repair – as liver cells,' says Lapidot...
"The findings could lead to new insights into organ repair and transplants, especially liver-related ones. They may also uncover a whole new stock of stem cells that can under certain conditions become liver cells. Until a few years ago only embryonic stem cells were thought to possess such capabilities. Understanding how stem cells in the bone marrow turn into liver cells could one day be a great boon to liver repair as well as an alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells."
-"Weizmann Institute scientists find that stem cells in the bone marrow become liver cells," EurakAlert, August 11, 2003, at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-08/wi-wis_1081103.php.
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"Recently, adult stem cells originating from bone marrow or peripheral blood have been suggested to contribute to repair and genesis of cells specific for liver, cardiac and skeletal muscle, gut, and brain tissue... Using adult stem cells to generate or repair solid organ tissue obviates the immunologic, ethical, and teratogenic issues that accompany embryonic stem cells."
-M. Korbling, Z. Estrov and R. Champlin, "Adult stem cells and tissue repair," Bone Marrow Transplantation, August 2003 (Supplement 1), p. S23, at www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/bmt/journal/v32/n1s/full/1703939a.html&filetype=pdf
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I.S. Abuljadayel, Chief Scientific Officer of Tri-Stem Inc., on his study published in the July 2003 Current Medical Research and Opinion on producing pluripotent stem cells from adult blood cells:
"This new technology offers a viable option for the generation of large numbers of pluripotent stem cells. These are likely to have many clinical and research applications. The source material is blood, the most accessible tissue in our body which can be extracted by simple venipuncture or aphaeresis. The procedure raises no ethical concerns and removes the need to resort to embryos or aborted fetuses. The technology is also cost-effective,donor-friendly producingrelatively large quantities of stem cells within a short time, which could eventually save patient lives and shorten patient waiting lists."
-"Stem cell-like plasticity induced in mature mononuclear cells," Reuters Health, July 7, 2003.
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"This is an example of promising experimental therapies involving stem cells from bone marrow. Until just a few years ago, conventional wisdom held that only embryonic stem cells could turn into any cell in the body. But that thinking began to change as studies showed that stem cells from bone marrow could become heart, muscle, nerve, or liver cells. Now, the results of clinical trials conducted in Britain, Germany and Brazil show that heart patients injected with their own bone marrow cells benefit from the treatment."
-N. Touchette,"Bone Marrow Stem Cells Heal the Heart," Genome News Network, May 2, 2003, at www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/05_03/sc_heart.shtml
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"Stem cells from bone marrow can transform into insulin-producing cells, scientists have shown, suggesting a future cure for diabetes...
"Transplants of pancreatic cells have been tried between people, but the supplies are restricted and recipients have to take strong anti-rejection medication. Embryonic stem cells have also been converted into insulin-producing cells, but also produce immune-rejection, in addition to ethical concerns. But taking bone marrow cells from a patient, developing them into beta cells and then reimplanting them would have none of these difficulties. Also, much of the technology for bone marrow transplantation is already well developed, says study leader Mehboob Hussain, at the New York University School of Medicine.
"'I am absolutely excited by the potential applications of our findings,' he said. 'In our body, there is an additional, easily available source of cells that are capable of becoming insulin-producing cells.'"
-S. Bhattacharya, "Bone marrow experiments suggest diabetes cure," NewScientist.com News Service, March 17, 2003, at www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993508.
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A professor at the University of Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand, on brain repair:
"The announcement that stem cells can be obtained from aborted human foetuses or from spare embryos from in vitro fertilisation procedures has been met with both enthusiasm and opposition. Less controversial, and probably more notable, is the recent demonstration that stem cells can be obtained from adult brain tissue, raising the exciting possibility that these 'neural stem cells' can be utilized to generate cells for autologous brain cell transplants....
"The use of adult stem cells in cell transplantation therapy could obviate the need to use stem cells derived from human embryos or human fetal tissue. At present, there are no legal or ethical concerns regarding research with adult stem cells. Furthermore, adult stem cells derived directly from the patient would reduce the likelihood that the transplanted cells would be rejected... Our studies are most advanced in Huntington's disease and our very recent results are very exciting."
-R. Faull, "Research in New Zealand on Huntington's Disease and Stem Cells," Huntington's News: The Quarterly Newsletter of the Huntington's Disease Associations of New Zealand, December 2002, at www.geocities.com/graham_tay/ResearchStem1202.htm
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"The use of human embryonic stem cells has been confronted with major obstacles because of bio-ethical and political issues involved obtaining them, as well as the suggestion that embryonic stem cells may lack appropriate developmental instructions, making them potentially less feasible for engrafting into adult tissue...
"As compared to embryonic stem cells, adult derived stem cells are endowed with additional developmental instructions and may be better suited for therapeutic purposes. According to [Dr. Shahin Rafii of Cornell University Medical College], 'We are approaching a day when a patient's own stem cells can be induced to divide and develop into tissue that can replace that which is diseased or destroyed, making overcrowded organ transplant lists and rejection of foreign tissues a thing of the past'."
-"Mechanism For Regulation Of Adult Stem Cells Found," UniSci - Daily University Science News, May 31, 2002, at http://unisci.com/stories/20022/0531021.htm
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On the versatility of adult hematopoietic (blood-producing) stem cells, HSCs:
"[R]ecent studies have suggested that a subpopulation of HSCs may have the ability to contribute to diverse cell types such as hepatocytes, myocytes, and neuronal cells, especially following induced tissue damage... These surprising findings contradict the dogma that adult stem cells are developmentally restricted."
-K. Bunting and R. Hawley, "The tao of hematopoietic stem cells: toward a unified theory of tissue regeneration," Scientific World Journal, April 10, 2002, p. 983.
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Commenting on a study by researchers at New York University, Yale and Johns Hopkins:
"'There is a cell in the bone marrow that can serve as the stem cell for most, if not all, of the organs in the body,' says Neil Theise, M.D., Associate Professor of Pathology at NYU School of Medicine... '(t)his study provides the strongest evidence yet that the adult body harbors stem cells that are as flexible as embryonic stem cells'."
-"Researchers Discover the Ultimate Adult Stem Cell," ScienceDaily Magazine, May 4, 2001, at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010504082859.htm
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"Umbilical cords discarded after birth may offer a vast new source of repair material for fixing brains damaged by strokes and other ills, free of the ethical concerns surrounding the use of fetal tissue, researchers said Sunday."
-"Umbilical cords could repair brains," Associated Press, February 19, 2001, at www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/333/7228/311894.html
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