FRC Blog

Adult Stem Cells for Stroke

by David Prentice

September 28, 2008

Researchers at Texas A&M have shown that adult stem cells injected into the brain can repair stroke damage. They injected human bone marrow stem cells into the brains of mice that had induced stroke, and found that the adult stem cells could alleviate the damage caused by the stroke. Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also indicated the mechanism of action of the adult stem cells in the brain. Previous studies have shown that mesenchymal stromal cells (a type of bone marrow stem cell) can reverse neural degeneration in the brain caused by disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke, but the mechanism was unclear. Dr. Darwin Prockop, the senior investigator, noted that “Our paper provides for the first time a molecular explanation of how adult stem/progenitor cells can ameliorate ischemic (reduced blood flow) damage to the brain.” The adult stem cells act primarily by signaling other cells in the brain, stimulating the brain cells to block inflammation that can lead to cell damage and death. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This result, and the mechanism uncovered for adult stem cells, could lead to significant treatments not only for stroke and other brain disorders, but also for diseases and injuries to other tissues throughout the body.

prockop.jpgWhile not the first to suggest this mechanism of action for adult stem cells, Dr. Prockop has been a leader in investigating the actions of adult stem cells to repair tissue damage. Previous research includes the potential of adult stem cells to stimulate repair of the pancreas and kidney, to promote growth of new neural stem cells in the brain, and to form new airway cells for potential lung repair. One of his recent papers discussed at length the potential mechanisms used by adult stem cells for tissue repair.

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Adult Stem Cells May Help Childhood Motor Neuron Disease

by David Prentice

September 27, 2008

Researchers at the University of Milan have published results indicating that adult neural stem cells might be used as a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. This motor neuron disease is the second most common genetic disorder leading to death in childhood. Using a mouse model for the disease, the scientists injected neural stem cells into the spinal cords of animals. They found that treated mice showed improved muscular function and increased lifespan compared to untreated controls. While some of the transplanted cells developed into motor neurons, the major effect of the injected cells seems to be improving survival and function of existing motor neurons already present in the mice, suggesting that the adult stem cells secrete factors to assist survival and regeneration.

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Adult Stem Cells Help Liver (No Onions)

by David Prentice

September 27, 2008

Doctors at Imperial College, London have published results showing improvement in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis, after treatment with their own adult stem cells. Nine patients had their adult stem cells from blood collected, the numbers were boosted in the lab, and then the cells were injected into their livers. Positive results were seen within one week. Seven of the nine patients showed significant improvement up to 12 weeks (the extent monitored for this study), with three patients showing almost complete resolution. Dr. Nagy Habib, the senior author, said “We are encouraged that the majority of patients in this study experienced a significant improvement in their liver functions.” These latest results were published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The new results using adult stem cells to treat liver damage are a follow-up to previous work done by Habib’s group and reported in 2006 and in 2007. Positive results using adult stem cells to treat liver damage in patients has also been reported by another group in Greece and in Japan.

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Patenting A Fraud

by David Prentice

September 26, 2008

Australia is apparently considering granting a patent for human cloning to disgraced South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk. The patent would cover the method of producing cloned human embryos and destroying the cloned embryos to harvest human embryonic stem cells. If granted, it would allow Hwang to collect royalties on proceeds from the sales of new medicines developed with his technology. Not that there are any such developments, nor likely to be. But it certainly seems wrong to reward a fraudulent scientist for a process he faked.

Hwang supposedly created cloned human embryos and destroyed them for their cells in 2004 and 2005, publishing the results in the journal Science. In late 2005 it was revealed that the research was a fraud and the results fabricated; the published papers were withdrawn. Hwang was indicted in May 2006, and prosecutors say he was the mastermind behind the fraud. South Korea has banned Hwang from research on cloning human embryos, though he continues to clone animals.

Hwang has supposedly applied for patents on his cloning technique in 11 countries but has been rejected by the European Patent Office and most countries, though a decision is still supposedly pending in four countries. One international patent expert, though, said even if Australia went ahead and granted a patent, it could be revoked if Hwang fails to present the cloned human embryonic stem cell line. If that is the case, Hwang is out of luck; the cell line that Hwang did create was determined to be from parthenogenesis, not from cloning. If you’re interested, you can review his patent claims and patent description.

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The $700 Billion Bailout Ballet

by Tom McClusky

September 26, 2008

 

While it has been a few years since I focused strictly on fiscal issues this bailout plan is troubling me (and that is not just because Hugo Chavez has basically endorsed it).  Whenever the Federal Government demands that “this needs to be passed now” and “trust us,” my first feeling is one of great doubt.

I agree with National Review’s (NR) assessment that something needs to be done and that it needs to insure strong conservative ideas (something I am not seeing coming from the White House or the Senate).  Others, including NR, have analyzed some of the even more socialistic proposals coming from the Democrats such as government controlled CEO pay and allowing judges to set and change mortgage rates.  

I have seen nothing however addressing what I see as a huge problem - there appears to be no withdrawal plan (or “exit strategy” as Code Pink might say).  Once the market rights itself what will the federal government do to extract itself from this huge takeover and involvement?  Every indication seems to point that they plan on sticking around for quite a while.

Since last Friday I have been inundated with an unprecedented number of e-mails and daily requests to be on White House phone calls where it appears the only

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people allowed to ask questions are those who support the plan (I say this knowing myself and others - all of us with questions - have not been called on to comment during the Q and A sections of the calls, despite repeated attempts to do so.)  The e-mails coming from the White House have been your typical talking points and “what others are saying” sheets.

However the one I received yesterday titled “A Lot Of That Money - And Maybe All Of It - Will Come Back: The Financial Rescue Plan Will Not Be A Handout,

But A Purchase Of Assets That Are Expected To Be Repaid Over Time” stood out.  This handout is telling us all the things that others are saying on how the Paulsen plan will make the government money and potentially even bring back a profit.  Is there no one disturbed that if this is true that once the government makes money they will be more reluctant to get out of the market? 

Additionally, say the government does make the money back and even makes a profit - what happens with that money?  The Congress has no plans to cut spending to make up for the billions of dollars going to this bailout so this is money on top of the trillions they are already spending.  “(P)erhaps the eventual profits can fund new investments in infrastructure or energy technology,” is one of the quotes from the White House handout.  And today it has been revealed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is looking to add to the proposal that any profits from the takeover be directed to groups like ACORN, which is infamous for violating election laws while receiving over 50 percent of its budget from the taxpayers.  Neither the White House or the Democratic Leadership has suggested “we will pay for this by cutting Washington’s already out of control spending - and we will return the money and any profits to the American taxpayer directly.”

Is it any wonder fiscally minded Americans are not swallowing this bitter tasting medicine coming from DC?

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Can You Hear Me Now With Adult Stem Cells?

by David Prentice

September 26, 2008

If you’re answering questions with “What did you say?” because you’ve had your iPod turned up too loud or been to lots of loud rock concerts, it may be due to the most frequent cause of hearing impairment, loss of hair cells in the inner ear. Two research groups may be on the track to helping you recover some of those lost cells. Researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences Center have published results in the journal Nature showing they can stimulate growth of new auditory hair cells in the inner ear of mice, by adding a gene to other cells in the ear.

Even more exciting, Italian scientists have shown actual repair of the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear. Mice with hearing loss caused by noise or toxic chemicals were treated with human umbilical cord blood stem cells (a type of adult stem cell) and showed repair of the damage. The cochlea in non-transplanted mice remained seriously damaged. According to Dr. Roberto P. Revoltella, lead author of the study, “Our findings show dramatic repair of damage with surprisingly few human-derived cells having migrated to the cochlea.” The research will be published in volume 17, issue 6 of the journal Cell Transplantation.

Eh? Adult stem cells continue to be the only stem cell providing real success.

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Olympic Gold for Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

September 26, 2008

In case you missed it, Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weijden won the gold medal in the men’s open-water swim marathon. His win is significant in itself, but even more so because just 7 1/2 years ago he was in a desperate struggle, battling leukemia. He won that battle because of an adult stem cell transplant. The gold medalist is only one of thousands of lives saved by adult stem cells, the only stem cell showing any success with patients.

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The Left’s Totalitarian Impulse…Again

by Pat Fagan

September 24, 2008

What do the Center for Reproductive Rights have in common with totalitarianism?  The suppression of conscience.

In the name of “choice” CRR is asking people to oppose the rights of conscience of those in health care who do not want to have anything to do with abortion or any other procedure or technology which the professional deems immoral. 

Rather than being sensitive to the differing conscientious stands that citizens and professionals will be taking on divisive issues, CRR and its allies are pushing to ride roughshod over the consciences of professionals. 

This tendency is on the increase in advocacy organizations and needs to be labeled for what it really is … the American form of totalitarianism. In this they join the ranks of those who followed Lenin, Hitler and Mao. 

It is time for all, no matter where they stand on the public issues of morality, to at minimum not violate the conscience of anyone. If we lose that we lose one of the foundations of a humane society, and we can forget democracy.

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An Award Well Deserved - A Job Well Done

by Moira Gaul

September 24, 2008

The Presidential Volnteer Service Award was bestowed upon a well deserved group of organizations and individuals, including Heartbeat International and Care Net affiliated pregnancy centers, last week. Daily coming alongside women and men in need of emotional, educational, and informational support and services, pregnancy care centers exemplify compassionate outreach across the country. The movement represents unsung servants of care and a model for faith-based efforts.

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