February 26, 2010
Two new published studies provide further evidence for the effectiveness of adult stem cells in repairing heart damage, and suggest possible mechanisms for how the cells work.
A Brazil-Florida collaboration found that adult stem cells injected directly into the heart could relieve angina. The researchers used injection directly into the heart based on previous results showing higher uptake of cells administered in this way. All eight of the angina patients in the study benefitted. Lead author Dr. Nelson Americo Hossne, Jr. said:
“For our patients, angina symptom relief began as early as three months post-procedure with continuing improvement through the twelfth month and sustained improvement past 18 months. Symptom relief improved in all patients, suggesting that the effect is sustained, not transitory.”
The authors conclude that their results show the procedure to be safe and effective, and suggest neoangiogenesis, the stimulation of new blood vessel growth, as the main stem cell mechanism of action in these patients.
A separate published study by Chinese scientists suggests that a small protein called apelin, which affects the strength of muscle contraction, may play a role in adult stem cell repair of heart. Twenty patients experiencing severe heart failure were treated with their own bone marrow adult stem cells, while another twenty heart failure patients were treated with standard medications; both groups were compared against twenty healthy adults. All twenty of the heart failure patients treated with adult stem cells showed significant improvement in cardiac function within 21 days of treatment, while the standard medication patients showed no improvement. Interestingly, the adult stem cell-treated patients showed a large increase in levels of apelin, correlated with the improvement in cardiac function. They postulate that the secretion of apelin is induced by the grafted adult stem cells.
Both studies were published in the journal Cell Transplantation. Dr. Amit Patel of the University of Utah School of Medicine and an Editor of the journal said:
“Both studies demonstrate a possible mechanistic approach in a clinical trial either. These important findings further enhance the understanding of the use of bone marrow derived cell therapy for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.”
February 26, 2010
An international team of scientists has used modified adult stem cells to repair the spinal cord in rats, restoring function. In spinal cord injury, the protective insulating sheath around the spinal cord is destroyed, a process called demyelination. Without the normal insulation, spinal cord nerves can’t send electrical impulses. The scientists isolated adult spinal cord stem cells, then modified them to produce the protein ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), a growth factor that stimulates cell survival and nerve growth. The results, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed recovered signaling in spinal cords of the treated rats and enhanced recovery of hindlimb movement. The authors conclude that using modified adult stem cells can enhance remyelination and facilitate functional recovery after traumatic spinal cord injury. Patients have already been treated with similar nasal adult stem cells. The authors of this current study note that besides confirming previous results with adult stem cells, these results indicate that optimal recovery will include grafts with additional stimulation such as the added growth factor they used.
February 26, 2010
UCLA scientists have shown that they can engineer adult blood stem cells so that they lack a molecule necessary for HIV infection. The CCR5 receptor is a protein molecule on the surface of cells that is bound by HIV when the virus infects certain immune cells, acting as a receptor for the virus. The scientists used “short hairpin RNA” to knock down the expression of the CCR5 molecule in the human adult stem cells, effectively preventing the protein from being produced. These cells could reconstitute the immune system in a mouse model, indicating that the function of the immune cells was not inhibited. But the human cells, now without the CCR5 protein receptor, resisted HIV infection. The study, published in the journal Blood, provides a potential method for controlling HIV infection in patients.
The study follows a previous report of successful adult stem cell treatment for leukemia that also appears to have controlled HIV infection in the patient. The doctors specifically used an adult stem cell donor whose cells lacked the CCR5 molecule.
February 25, 2010
Compared to the questionable success of embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have been achieving some real successes in retinal repair studies, without the complication issues of tumors, etc. and without the ethical problems associated with embryonic stem cells.
A couple of examples of recently published studies.
In a paper published February 15, 2010, Oregon scientists showed that they could use bone marrow-derived adult stem cells to treat a rat model of retinitis pigmentosa. Visual function was significantly preserved in this study. An added benefit was that the cells could be easily grown in culture and administered intravenously; once injected, they traveled to the retina where they exerted their protective effect. The study highlights the possibility of using a patient’s own adult stem cells for treatment of retinitis, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.
A study by Canadian and Japanese researchers used human retinal stem cells that had been modified to increase their differentiation potential. When injected into the eyes of mice, the adult stem cells survived and differentiated into photoreceptors. Injected into a mutant mouse strain that lacks functional photoreceptors, the adult stem cells significantly improved visual function. The study was published online in the journal Stem Cells December 11, 2009.
In Louisville, they are close to initiating a clinical trial using adult stem cells for treatment of macular degeneration.
Looking at a different part of the eye, adult stem cells have already been used successfully in patients to treat corneal blindness.
There are other examples of real adult stem cell successes for visual repair if we want to go back further. And unlike “potential” embryonic stem cell experiments which rely on sacrificing some human beings, adult stem cell research doesn’t require destroying the cell donor, instead often using the patient’s own adult stem cells for the treatment. Real success and real science.
February 25, 2010
The ACLU is at it again. This time, they are demanding an apology from a Montgomery County, Maryland, public school teacher. Behind this demand is, as always with this federally-funded outfit, the bludgeon-like threat of a huge lawsuit.
What was the teachers offense? Apparently, the teacher threatened a student with detention if she refusedas she repeatedly didto stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher sent the student to the counselors office for her refusal to stand.
The ACLU immediately invoked the Supreme Courts ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). That case is often cited as a hallmark of American civil liberties, especially remarkable because it was handed down while the United States was engaged in a world war to defend democracy.
But the Court in 1943 said that students cannot be required to salute the flag or recite the Pledge. That was quite right.
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
The Court did not say that students could not be required to stand quietly while other students recited the Pledge of Allegiance. If we stop for a moment, we can all readily agree that it would be wrong to require, for instance, the children of legal resident aliens to pledge their allegiance to our flag. In the famed 1943 case, the parents of the children who declined to take part in the flag salute and pledge were Jehovahs Witnesses. These people had a religious conviction that led them to regard pledging allegiance to the flag as a violation of the Commandment against making graven images. We should not force these students to violate their consciences.
We are constantly told by liberals that the purpose of education is to prepare young people to take part in todays complex and multi-cultural society. Does it? Surely, anyone attending a baseball game at Baltimores Camden Yards between a Canadian team and the home team is familiar with the two national anthems that are played. O Canada and The Star-Spangled Banner are both sung. What are Americans expected to do during the playing of the Canadian national anthem? Just stand silently and to show respect. Its the civil and neighborly thing to do.
Theres rich historical irony in this, too. For the words of United States national anthem were composed at nearby Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. Those rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air were weapons of our British enemies. And the Canadians national anthem contains this line: O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
Against whom exactly were the Canadians standing guard? Hint: It wasnt moose or polar bears. It was us. The Americans repeatedly had failed repeatedly to invade and conquer Canada when it was a British colony. But now, Americans and Canadians are the best of friends. We stand politely for each others national anthems, which may be the only two such anthems in the world that are actually written against each other.
Is the Montgomery County school case too trivial to merit national attention? No. It illustrates how classroom discipline and American patriotism are under constant assault by the ACLU. Our tax dollars are funding this radical outfit. Thomas Jefferson said to require a man to provide contributions of money for the propagation of opinions he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical. Surely, the fact that the ACLU uses our tax money against us is a gross violation of our rights.
Does it matter? John Walker Lindh is currently sitting in federal prison. He is the so-called American Taliban who was convicted of fighting against Americans in Afghanistan. Young Lindh was educated in Montgomery County Public Schools. Was he taught anything about why he should be loyal to his country? Why jihadism is a threat to all our rights? I seriously doubt it. By punishing a teacher who simply tried to give students the opportunity to express their patriotism and support for our country during a time of war, the Montgomery County public schools are doing nothing to avoid future American Talibans.
February 25, 2010
A news story out yesterday exemplifies the “successes” of embryonic stem cells. The story proclaimed that scientists had “successfully used mouse embryonic stem cells to replace diseased retinal cells and restore sight in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa.” Sounds pretty good? Later there is the requisite hyperbole about treatments, that “Once the complication issues are addressed” and a list of retinal diseases that will be treated with embryonic stem cells.
Wait a minute. Complication issues?
However, complications of benign tumors and retinal detachments were seen in some of the mice, so Dr. Tsang and colleagues will optimize techniques to decrease the incidence of these complications in human embryonic stem cells before testing in human patients can begin.
I would hope that they’d eliminate the complications first, not just decrease the incidence. And just how many of the mice are represented by “some”?
The abstract in the journal Transplantation gives a bit more detail:
Although more than half of the mice were complicated with retinal detachments or tumor development, one fourth of the mice showed increased electroretinogram responses in the transplanted eyes.
So, a quarter of the mice showed improvement, but more than half showed complications including tumors…
So much for an embryonic success.
February 24, 2010
When she was 30, Jennifer Osman was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a neurological disorder that attacks the peripheral nervous system, progressively weakening and numbing its victim. She began the usual treatment of immunosuppressant therapy. As the disease progressed, Jennifer was at the hospital three or four times a week. As things progressed, she became weaker and nearly paralyzed. Her husband Rick said that she had become so bad that she had no strength in her arms & legs, and he had to carry her to bed and sometimes even had to feed her. They were told that the disease could eventually attack the nerves supporting her lungs and stop her from breathing, killing her by the time she was 40.
Then Jennifer signed up for an adult stem cell study run by Dr. Richard Burt, chief of the Division of Immunotherapy at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her adult stem cells were collected and she received chemotherapy to knock out the rogue immune cells attacking her nervous system. Shortly after, on April 1, 2005, Jennifer received a transplant of her own adult stem cells and her immune system, now rebooted, began to rebuild itself. The process was slow and grueling, but she has taken no medication for the disease since 2008. Today, almost five years since her transplant, she is nearly symptom-free.
“This is my life, a healthy life. Back to normal.”
Rick points out:
“It’s really important to us that people know (about the stem cell procedure), because we found out about this from watching TV. If we hadn’t seen that broadcast, she probably wouldn’t be here today.”
The Osmans have a website to tell Jennifer’s story and communicate with other CIDP patients. Jennifer is looking forward to updating the site on April 1, five years to the day that she received her adult stem cell transplant.
You can see a video of Amy Daniels (another of Burt’s patients) and her story of treatment for scleroderma, as well as other patient stories, at Stem Cell Research Facts.
Dr. Burt has performed the first adult stem cell transplants in the country, and sometimes in the world, for patients with many autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, Type I (juvenile) diabetes, and of course CIDP. Burt said Northwestern has done about 350 of these transplants so far. A number of his clinical trials are currently ongoing, including one for CIDP. Dr. Burt says:
“When I first came up with this idea … people said, ‘Why are you wasting your time?’ I ended up following my passion, and it’s been fabulous. The amazing thing is, traditional medicine has just kind of come to a stop with these patients. What we’ve done is we’ve changed that.”
According to Burt, the treatment has come a long way, as Medicare and several insurance companies will now cover it.
February 24, 2010
I am currently following the blog of a young woman who has chosen to abort her second child via medical abortion, or, RU-486. My heart aches for this woman (and for her unborn baby), who, by her own account is the victim of abuse and has suffered depression and suicidal thoughts.
Angie, a single mother of a four-year-old son, is documenting her second childs termination via Twitter and blog. She also appeared on YouTube to discuss her decision and experience. Angie is getting cheered on for her brave decision by fellow bloggers posting on her site.
Anyone following this story or watching her on youtube will feel sorry for Angie and want to do whatever they can to help her. Those responding on her blog think the helpful response is to support her choice and encourage Angies termination of her baby.
I, however, disagree with Angies cheerleaders. Supporting her decision to abort her baby unintentionally does a grave injustice to Angie, her unborn child, her son and even her boyfriend.
Abortion kills one person and wounds at least one additional person.
For any woman who might think that abortion could ever be the best option, I would encourage visiting this site, which includes testimony from women who underwent abortions.
I would also encourage reading the pamphlet on the psychological effects of abortion, co-authored by a formerly pro-choice psychiatrist who continually counseled women struggling emotionally and psychologically after having an abortion.
The following link shows studies with the physical consequences of abortion.
For boyfriends, husbands and men who are struggling with the decision or aftermath of abortion, see this link.
And for any woman who has chosen abortion and is struggling with her choice, please visit the following link.
To Angie, or anyone who has been in her position —- may you find the necessary peace and healing that can only come by accepting that abortion is never the best choice for a mother or baby.
February 24, 2010
Yesterday, as I was digesting my second cup of coffee, my friend sent me a link to something she deemed really off the charts. I clicked on the link only to be disturbed by the accounts on a blog, in addition to watching a YouTube video that brought tears to my eyes listening to the accounts of a woman describing her abortion. The woman had no guilt or remorse for the harm she was placing on the baby she conceived, and this was hard to contemplate.
I said a prayer for this woman, but I began to ponder whether this is the first of many videos covering senseless acts of tragedy against an unborn life. Abortion is the loss of a life with much potential, and the fact that this was broadcast online for the world to see only provides the opportunity for bringing an alternative to abortion into the limelight.
With the help of a Pregnancy Resource Center, this woman could have received assistance and sound medical advice to bring her child into the world. Even if she did not want the child, there is the option of adoption. Adoption would allow this child to be loved and cared for by a family, in addition to allowing that child to pursue dreams and opportunities.
FRC recently published a report about the difference Pregnancy Resource Centers are making in the lives of women contemplating abortion. Take for example, Megan, who was considering using RU-486 (the same drug the woman in the video used) to abort her baby. However, after a change of heart and receiving support from her local Pregnancy Resource Center, she gave birth to her daughter, Ava.
Megans decision saved a beautiful life with much potential. The tragedy is that the woman in the video will never know her terminated childs potential.
February 24, 2010
Previous stories focused on the science of treating peripheral artery disease with adult stem cells. Often overlooked are the people whose lives have been changed or even saved by adult stem cell treatments.
Helen Thomas, 80, of Hastings, Michigan is one of those people. Helen’s painful circulatory problem in her leg meant she had trouble walking, rarely left home, and was facing amputation of her leg. But her physician, Kenneth Merriman of Hastings, asked around at a medical conference and found Dr. Randall Franz, who was doing a clinical trial at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Franz injected Helen’s own adult stem cells into her leg, causing new blood vessels to grow. Helen is now up and about, back to normal.
“It was a miracle. I’m walking, and I wouldn’t be walking without the stem cells. I have my leg. They saved my life. I told them they saved my life.”
Helen’s daughter Mary said:
“It’s just life-changing”
Initial patient results have been published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.
HT: Andy McDonald