Dramatic Uses of Adult Stem Cells
J.C. Willke, MD and Bradley Mattes
The biotech industry, liberal media and pro-abortion forces have created and maintained
substantial public confusion on stem cells. Mostly, what we hear are the two words
stem cells. Sometimes we hear about embryonic stem cells.
We almost never hear about adult stem cells. Considerable media attention
has been given to the California initiative authorizing three billion dollars
for embryonic stem cell research. We have watched as other states, New Jersey,
Massachusetts, Wisconsin, etc. attempt to appropriate tax funds for embryonic
stem cell research in a stated attempt to not lose their scientists to California.
And we certainly know of Nancy Reagans and the late Christopher Reeves
support for embryonic stem cell research.
The reality of new scientific
progress on stem cell research continues to flow across our desks, sometimes even
weekly. There are reports from all over the world of new research using stem cells
to probe the mysteries of life and specifically to find cures for human ailments
and injuries. The field is alive with new discoveries happening every month. One
consistent thing about all of these new reports is that they are about adult stem
cells. To date, there have been no human successes in the use of embryonic stem
cells. Yet, nearly all of what we hear from the so-called mainstream press and
biotech industries is the promise of embryonic stem cell research.
is this? Are only a privileged few being told about the tremendous successes working
with adult stem cells? It might almost seem so. Very few, if any, adult stem cell
reports seem to find their way into the pages of our liberal newspapers or onto
the lips of our liberal media. To help set the record straight, weve briefly
itemized some of the adult stem cell research that has come to our attention in
the last year or two. Some of these are quite dramatic and very recent.
Treatments and Cures
Scientists in Portugal1, 2 are using olfactory
enshething glial cells from the lining of a patients nose to treat spinal
cord injuries. Senator Brownback recently held a press conference
where he introduced two young ladies, Susan and Laura, who were paralized, one
a quadriplegic. Both of them are now able to walk with braces, due to adult stem
In South Korea a 20-year-old quadriplegic woman received transplanted
umbilical cord stem cells to the site of her spinal injury. Shes now mobile
with a walker.3
In Germany, stem cells have been used to help repair skull
bone damage in a seven-year-old girl.
Unlike other bones, skull bones do not regenerate, hence the use of metal plates
to repair the damage. Using adult stem cells, the missing bone plates were replaced
by thin, solid bone. Bits of the childs own bones, mixed with adult stem
cells, produced the healing.4
London researches have been using adult
stem cells in trials to treat damaged livers.
They hope to colonize and grow new liver cells allowing the liver to function
In the US6, Germany7, Brazil8 and France9, human patients have
been treated with their own stem cells to regenerate heart
muscle destroyed during a heart attack or injury. In most cases this was successful.
Twenty-three patients regained their eyesight following limbal (adult) stem cell
transplants.10 This treatment has helped many suffering from blindness
for years, including victims of Iraqi mustard gas attacks.
Crohns disease have apparently
been cured after treatment with stem cells from their own blood.11
percent of 19 patients with various autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus,
are in remission or have improved after treatment with their own blood stem cells.12
One patient with multiple sclerosis
improved after being treated with adult stem cells from his own blood.13
One study of Parkinsons patients
showed an average improvement of sixty-one percent increase of coordination, as
well as fewer symptoms after transplants of the patients own neuronal stem
Doctors added adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood to the
treatment of leukemia patients. This
freed fourteen of eighteen patients of the disease.15
cell transplants successfully treated over two hundred sickle
cell patients. The success rate has been eighty to eighty-five
A 52-year-old woman with rheumatoid
arthritis in 38 joints was treated with adult stem cells from her
sister. While still in the hospital, her morning stiffness ceased. One year later
she is free of the disease and off medication.17
Innsbruck, Austria, doctors
have used adult stem cells from patients muscles to successfully treat urinary
stress incontinence. Eighteen of twenty
remain continent one year later.18
Researchers found that adult stem cells
in the pulp of baby teeth may be extremely useful in growing replacement brain
tissue to overcome stroke damage and other neurological
is a potentially lethal parasitic condition attacking and destroying the heart
and other tissue. It kills six million people worldwide every year. The parasite
can be killed with treatment, but the damage remains. Now scientists in Buenos
Aires, using adult stem cells from patients own bone marrow, have been repairing
Scientists in New York are exploring the real possibility
of using adult stem cells to regenerate teeth
that have been removed.21
Toronto researchers reported finding adult stem
cells not merely in umbilical cord blood, but also a jackpot of adult
stem cells in the tissue mass (Wartons Jelly) surrounding the three umbilical
cord blood vessels. They anticipate using these adult stem cells to regrow bone
and connective tissue in knees that
have been damaged in an accident.22
In Argentina, stem cells from a diabetic
patients own bone marrow were fed into his pancreas
through an artery. His glucose levels returned to normal with no need for medication.23
Pennsylvania and Louisiana scientists have coaxed adult stem cells from bone marrow
to differentiate into the type of cells that line lungs and air passages. This
may lead to effective treatments for cystic fibrosis.24
Adult stem cells hold a promise to treating baldness
in humans. A study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reports
using them to grow hair on bald mice.25
Chicago researchers are looking
at a new adult stem cell technique that will replace implants for reconstructive
surgery and body augmentation. This
could have profound commercial implications for cosmetic surgery.26
of the above studies are preliminary and several have been done in animal models,
although many have been used in human trials. A single report of a success (e.g.
of skull bone) is not considered official until other scientists replicate the
same study. Then trials must succeed in human subjects using adult stem cells
before such treatments will be available for you and your loved ones. This being
said, however, we can hardly conceal our excitement at these new discoveries.
Most of the above have been reported within the last year, with some much more
recent. In stark contrast to this, we have no reports of such successes using
embryonic stem cells.
Objections to the use of embryonic stem cells are
both medical and moral. The moral dimension is evident. The only way to obtain
these cells is to directly kill a five-day-old living human embryo, cutting him
or her open and extracting embryonic stem cells. From an ethical, moral standpoint,
this alone should rule out their use.
Medically speaking, there are several
major problems. One is this tissue is from another living human, with a different
DNA and can be rejected just like a transplanted kidney. Another is that they
can carry infection from the donors; a worse case would be AIDS. Finally, and
most importantly, researchers have not discovered a way to regulate or target
their growth, for they are very plastic. They can uncontrollably grow
into many types of cells. For instance, implanted embryonic stem cells have turned
into bone, skin, kidney and other tissues when researchers had hoped they would
turn into brain cells. This tendency for tumor formation has, as of yet, been
Can these problems be solved? That is the challenge scientists
hope to solve if and when they are given free reign to kill human embryos and
use these cells in unrestricted and usually lethal experimentation. Their hope
is the curative value of embryonic stem cells might even exceed all of the above
adult stem cell successes. This, however, is just a hope. A number of highly scientific
experts in this field have predicted such hopes are pipe dreams and that embryonic
stem cells will never be able to be harnessed for curative reasons.
above dim prospects are specifically the reason almost no private venture capital
has been flowing into embryonic stem cell research, whereas, substantial amounts
have been invested in the adult stem cell research.
Why then is there
an almost exclusive push by liberal sources for embryonic stem cell research,
and a near total blackout of the above adult stem cell successes? One reason is
that killing five-day-old human embryos does not pose a problem for many scientists
and certainly not for much of the media. If you can abort them before birth, you
can snuff out their lives in a research lab. For scientists, the unknown is a
challenge, a horizon that needs to be explored. They want to boldly go where no
man has gone before. Whether or not palatable results seem reasonably obtainable
is irrelevant. Exploring the unknown is a goal in itself. They are, however, faced
with the obvious fact that private money will not subsidize such questionable
investigations. This is why there is tremendous pressure from scientists, the
liberal media and, very clearly, a powerful and well-financed biotech industry
to appropriate tax money for such research.
Our goal is to make more people
aware of the obvious promise of adult stem cells. Pro-lifers should be in the
forefront, telling the world the exciting possibilities of ethical adult stem
cell research. Further, this should be contrasted with the fact that embryonic
stem cell research is done by killing living humans in the very limited hope of
someday helping another.
Testimony of Susan Fajt at hearing of the US Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology
and Space, July 14, 2004. Accessed at: http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1268&wit_id=3674
2 Zwillich,Todd, "Paralysis Patients Tout Adult Stem Cells: Portuguese
Surgery Soon to Seek FDA Approval in US," WebMD Medical News, June 24, 2004.
Accessed at: http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/89/100250.htm
Woman Walks Again After Stem Cell Therapy," Yahoo! News, Nov. 28, 2004. Accessed
4 Howaldt, Hans-Peter
et al., "Autologous Stem Cells and Fibrin Glue Used to Treat Widespread Traumatic
Calvarial Defects: Case Report, Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume
32, Issue 6, Dec. 2004, p 370-373.
5 Day, Michael, Halle, Martyn and
Houreld, Katharine "If Drink or Disease Destroy Your Liver, Just Grow a New
One," Telegraph Group Limited, Nov. 14, 2004. Accessed at: http://telegraph.co.uk/core/Content/displayPrintable.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/14/nliver14.xml&site
6 Wade, Nicholas, "Doctors Use Bone Marrow Stem Cells to Repair a
Heart," New York Times, March 7, 2003: A20.
7 Britten, MB et al.,
"Infarct Remodeling After Intracoronary Progenitor Cell Treatment in Patients
With Acute Myocardial Infarction," Circulation 108, 2003, p 2212-2218.
8 Perin, EC et al., "Transendocardial, Autologous Bone Marrow Cell
Transplantation for Severe, Chronic Ischemic Heart Failure," Circulation
107, May 13, 2003, p 2294-2302.
9 Menasche, P et al., "Myoblast
Transplantation for Heart Failure," Lancet 357, Jan. 2001, p 279-280.
10 Holland, Edward J et al., "Management of Aniridic Keratopathy With
Keratolimbal Allograft: a Limbal Stem Cell Transplantation Technique," Ophthalmology,
Volume 110, Issue 1, p 125-130.
11 Burt, RK et al., "High-Dose
Immune Suppression and Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in Refractory
Crohn Disease," Blood 101, March 2003, p 2064-2066.
O et al., "Autologous Stem-Cell Transplantation in Refractory Autoimmune
Diseases After in Vivo Immunoablation and Ex Vivo Depletion of Mononuclear Cells,"
Arthritis Research 2, 2000, p 327-336.
13 Silber, Judy, "A Promising
Weapon in the Fight Against MS," Sept. 7, 2000. Accessed at: www.mult-sclerosis.org/news/Sep2000/LATimesMSStemCellTransplants.html
14 Gill, SS et al., "Direct Brain Infusion of Glial Cell Line-Derived
Neurotrophic Factor in Parkinson Disease," Nature Medicine 9, May 2003, p
15 Ooi, J et al., "Unrelated Cord Blood Transplantation
for Adult Patients With De Novo Acute Myeloid Leukemia," Blood 103, Jan.
15, 2004, p 489-491.
16 Vermylen, C, "Hematopoietic Stem Cell
Transplantation in Sickle Cell Disease," Blood 17, Sept. 2003, p 163-166.
17 Burt, Richard K, "Induction of Remission of Severe and Refractory
Rheumatoid Arthritis by Allogeneic Mixed Chimerism," Arthritis & Rheumatism,
Volume 50, Issue 8, p 2466-2470.
18 Klauser, Andrea et al., "Ultrasound-Guided
Transurethral Injection of Adult Stem Cells for Treatment of Urinary Incontinence:
First Clinical Results," Nov. 28, 2004. Accessed at: http://www2.rsna.org/pr/target.cfm?ID=208
19 Miura, Masako et al., "SHED: Stem Cells From Human Exfoliated Deciduous
Teeth," Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, May 13, 2003, Volume
100, No. 10, p 5807-5812.
20 "Adult Stem Cells Repair Damage
Caused by Deadly Parasites," Corethics, Feb. 17, 2005. Accessed at: http://www.corethics.org/document.asp?id=n170205.txt&se=4&4st=4
21 Duailibi, MT et al., "Bioengineered Teeth from Cultured Rat Tooth
Bud Cells," Journal of Dental Research 83, p 523-528.
Rahul et al., "Human Umbilical Cord Perivascular (HUCPV) Cells: A Source
of Mesenchymal Progenitors," Stem Cells 23, Feb. 2005, p 220-229.
"Argentina: More on Fernandez Vina's Work on Diabetes," Stem Cell Research
Medical and Health News, Feb. 8, 2005. Accessed at: http://www.stemnews.com/archives/000247.html
24 Spice, Byron, "Stem Cell Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis?," Health,
Science & Environment, Dec. 21, 2004. Accessed at: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04356/430049.stm
25 Morris, Rebecca et al., "Capturing and Profiling Adult Hair Follicle
Stem Cells," Nature Biotechnology, Volume 22, No. 4, April 2004, p 411-417.
26 Reinberg, Steven, "Stem Cells Promise Better Plastic Surgery,"
Forbes.com, Feb. 17, 2005. Accessed at: http://www.forbes.com/lifestyle/health/feeds/hscout/2005/02/17/hscout524030.html
from the Life Issues Connector, April 2005.