February 24, 2007

More Adult Non-Embryonic Life-Safe Stem Cell News You Can Use

Given where the research has gone, I’m starting to like the term “life-safe” as the best way to describe stem cell research that is actually accomplishing something. Michael Fumento makes great points about the efficicacy of non-embryonic stem cell research and the Formerly Mainstream Media’s near blackout on news about progress being made.

I’ll stick to the science (bolds are mine):

….. Adult stem cells cure and treat more 70 diseases and are involved in almost 1,300 human clinical trials. Scientists also keep discovering that adult stem cells are capable of creating a wider variety of mature cells. Perhaps the most promising of these was announced in the January issue of Nature Biotechnology.

….. One advantage of embryonic stem cells has been that most types of adult stem cells cannot be multiplied outside of the body for very long, while embryonic ones may replicate in the lab indefinitely. But (Director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine Anthony) Atala’s new amniotic stem cells grow as fast outside the body as embryonic stem cells (doubling every 36 hours), and he’s now been growing the same cell line for two years, with no indication of slowing.

That leaves embryonic stem cells with only one possible advantage–potential. Embryonic stem cells can be “differentiated” into all three “germ layers,” or subtypes of cell. That means they should be able to be made into all of the 220 types of cells in humans. For a long while, adult stem cells were believed to be only capable of differentiation to a limited number of mature cells, depending on the type of adult stem cell with which you start. For example, a marrow cell could become any number of types of marrow or blood cells, but it couldn’t become a muscle cell. That’s a different germ layer.

Yet it’s been virtually a state secret that for over five years researchers, beginning with a team headed by physician Catherine Verfaillie of the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute, have been reporting numerous types of adult stem cells (she used those from marrow) that in the lab could form mature cells from three germ layers. Experiments around the world have clearly shown that adult stem cells from one germ layer can be converted into those of another in a living human, such as those that turned marrow cells into heart muscle and blood vessels in live humans.

….. Scientifically, all embryonic stem cells tend to become cancerous; they require permanent, dangerous, immunosuppressive drugs because the body rejects them as foreign; and they are difficult to differentiate into the needed type of mature cells. Non-embryonic stem cells, however, do not become cancerous; they are far less likely to cause rejection (especially the youngest, including umbilical cord and amniotic/placenta); and they have been used therapeutically since the late 1950s (originally for leukemia) because they have the amazing ability to form the right type of mature cell merely upon being injected into a body that needs that type of cell.

It is these biological differences that have held embryonic stem cell research back, not a lack of federal funds.

As stem-cell researcher Malcolm Alison of the University of London told the Daily Mail, the amniotic cells “appear to be at least as malleable as embryonic stem cells but without all the ethical baggage.”

For all the talk over the morality of using human embryos in medicine, perhaps there’s another moral issue at play: Non-embryonic stem cell researchers are already performing miracles, such as growing new heart and liver tissue and treating multiple sclerosis–all in living humans. Yet they struggle to get federal funds for their research. Given the growing number of state initiatives that fund embryonic stem cell, but not non-embryonic stem cell, research and given that overall National Institutes of Health funding increases are unlikely anytime soon, is it truly moral to take away funds from a technology that’s been saving lives for half a century in favor of another technology that promises nothing but “promise”?

Read the whole thing for examples of misreporting, false reporting, and non-reporting of the ongoing tidal wave of great news in life-safe stem-cell research.

As to the funding issue, what possible justification is there for the various states directing research funds towards embryonic stem cell research that hasn’t been working and is at least a decade away from working, to the detriment of the life-safe stem cell research that is leading to tangible results today, and shows every sign of being able to accomplish everything that embryonic research — maybe, “someday” — will?

Positivity: Man Fights Off Anaconda to Rescue Grandson

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:56 am

From Brazil (HT Debbie Schlussel):

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Feb. 8) – A 66-year-old Brazilian saved his grandson from the grip of a 16-foot-long anaconda by beating the snake with rocks and a knife for half an hour, police said Thursday.

“When I saw the snake wrapped around my grandson’s neck I thought it was going to kill him,” Joaquim Pereira told the Agencia Estado news service. “It was agonizing, I pulled it from one side, but it would come back on the other.”

Pereira’s 8-year-old grandson, Mateus, was attacked by the anaconda near a creek on his grandfather’s ranch in the city of Cosmorama, about 250 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.

While the boy was playing with friends, the snake attacked and wrapped itself around him, police officer Hudson Augusto said. Anacondas are not poisonous, but kill their prey by coiling around them and squeezing until victims suffocate.

“It brought me to the ground and bit me,” the boy told Globo TV, which showed footage of the dead snake. “Then it started crawling up my neck and began suffocating me.”

Mateus’ friends ran to get his grandfather, who reached the scene and battled with the snake until it released his grandson.

The boy was rushed to a hospital and needed 21 stitches on his chest where he was bitten.

Police said anacondas are not uncommon in the region, but attacks on people are rare.