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Wednesday, July 19, 2006



I don't suppose the discrepancy between the number of clinical trials, etc, between ASC and ESC therapies has anything to do with the relative availability of funding, or the progressive degradation and contamination of the "permitted" ESC lines?

I also have a question that I hope someone can answer: is it possible to develop therapies for neurological disorders from ASC? If so, about how many of the 1175 ASC clinical trials are aimed at neurological treatments?


Christopher Fotos

There's all the funding in the world available for embryonic stem cell research--just not federal funds, other than the old stem-cell lines. I'm not in favor of that research or the funding that supports it, but presumably if it were such a promising idea embryonic researchers would be gagging on all the funding.

As for neurological disorders, I know that some ASC work has been in this area, but I can't say exactly how much. There have been some promising results with disorders like Parkinson's disease, but I believe in some of the more prominent cases, like a doctor who testified at a Senate hearing a few years ago, the effectiveness was only temporary. Here's a piece by Wesley Smith last year at NRO on some success:

This media pattern was again in evidence in the reporting of two very important research breakthroughs announced within the last two weeks. Unless you made a point of looking for these stories — as I do in my work — you might have missed them. Patients with Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis received significant medical benefit using experimental adult-stem-cell regenerative medical protocols. These are benefits that supporters of embryonic-stem-cell treatments have yet to produce widely in animal experiments. Yet adult stem cells are now beginning to ameliorate suffering in human beings....

Here's the story, in case you missed it: A man in his mid-50s had been diagnosed with Parkinson's at age 49. The disease grew progressively, leading to tremors and rigidity in the patient's right arm. Traditional drug therapy did not help.

Stem cells were harvested from the patient's brain using a routine brain biopsy procedure. They were cultured and expanded to several million cells. About 20 percent of these matured into dopamine-secreting neurons. In March 1999, the cells were injected into the patient's brain.

Three months after the procedure, the man's motor skills had improved by 37 percent and there was an increase in dopamine production of 55.6 percent. One year after the procedure, the patient's overall Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale had improved by 83 percent — this at a time when he was not taking any other Parkinson's medication!

That is an astonishing, remarkable success, one that you would have thought would set off blazing headlines and lead stories on the nightly news...

Oddly, no.

Smith also writes about advances in treating MS with bone-marrow stem cells.

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