Stem Cells Archives

Top scientist calls "scam" Geron human ESC experiment

By Michael Fumento

To much celebration and media play, the first human trial of embryonic stem cells has begun.

With a grand total so far of one patient.

"I don't understand [having] human trials because the animal studies aren't very convincing," David Bennett, a University of Alberta neuroscientist renowned for his experimentation with spinal-cord injuries, told me for my AOL News piece today. "My gut feeling is that it's a scam," he said.

Cats can regrown severed spinal cords to the extent they can walk again without help, though mine prefers to literally lie down and monitor me.

My article explains why the company behind it, Geron, felt compelled to proceed. It comes down to one word: money. In part, they've been spending on this work for 15 years with no human experimentation. Stockholders don't like that.

But there's much more to the Geron "scam."

For example, Geron says it will only treat patients injured in the preceding two weeks. Yet that's when injured spinal cords are spontaneously generating new cells in an effort to heal.

Studies in cats with completely severed spines show that with mere treadmill exercise, as one found, all of them could walk again without assistance, though sadly their mouse-chasing days were behind them.

Even if none of Geron's patients shows any improvement in sensation or mobility, sensitive tests like electromyography or one mercifully abbreviated to SEP can detect increases in cell growth or something called plasticity.

That would give Geron a chance to claim success when there was none.

Meanwhile, there has already been success using adult stem cells to treat human paralysis. But money for these trials has steadily been diverted to, yes, ESC work.

Incidentally, Bennett has 106 citations in MedLine, but nobody else in the media quotes the real experts. Instead, they go to the "old reliables" who just happen to have millions of dollars invested in embryonic stem cell research. Which is why, unfortunately, you read stuff like this here first.

October 14, 2010 06:31 PM  ·  Permalink

What a shocker! "First" embryonic stem cell clinical trial put off again!

By Michael Fumento

Geron Corp. has announced that the FDA has again put on hold what we've long been told will be the first clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells.

If you're not shocked, it's because you don't know that it has been portrayed as the first human clinical trial since 2002 when lead scientist Hans Keirstead said his much-celebrated study on partially-paralyzed rats would be replicated as soon as the next year. As I've written repeatedly over the years, most recently in Forbes Online, somehow those "just around the corner" treatments for ES cells keep being a corner too far.

August 20, 2009 12:27 PM  ·  Permalink

Stem cell research hate mail (Enjoy!)

By Michael Fumento

Since you are so kinowledgeable about stems and their ineffectivness maybe you should call these company and have them unload the needles as they are loaded and ready for the first injections by many.

A cell is a cell but are usually taken from the own patient or a cadavier
or embryonic say a liver for a liver. Your not going to grow a third eyeball on your testicles when you have testicular cancer.

Pluripont stems or ips is the next generation. Stems have been done arounf the world and effective in many cases. One country who tried to beat the curve, i believe russia tried to rush into stems and caused a massive tumor on a patient.

This is America where we have great scientist and physicians to monitor every microspoic cell implanted.

Your story makes stems sound like some horror story Hitler would have
done in germany to the jews, Oddly one of the major stem players is
out of isreal.

We are not looking at decades for stems to develop as you heard quoted in 1998. The time is now and is here and going into phase 3 recruiting patients. Please reconsider or contact Dr Robert Lanza you will find him at wake forrest or at actc in cambridge,

July 16, 2009 09:52 AM  ·  Permalink

Embryonic Stem Cells "Cure" only Lack of Wealth

By Michael Fumento

The Obama administration has opened the floodgates on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, which advocates insist have the potential to cure virtually every malady from Parkinsonism to piles. Maybe. But paraplegics shouldn't post their wheelchairs on EBay just yet.

As I discuss in my Forbes Online piece today, "Decades Away: The Dirty Secret of Embryonic Stem Cell Research," even honest ES cell researchers and advocates admit that therapies and cures are "decades away." That may be 20 years, 30-50 years, or perhaps not in any of our lifetimes. What if Americans knew that?

And what if they knew that in any case the technology is "obsolete," as former NIH director Bernadine Healy - and former ES cell research advocate - puts it.

That's because there are competing therapies, such as adult stem cells, which have been curing people since the 1950s, have treated scores of different diseases, and have been the subject of over 2,000 clinical trials.

Yet, federal research spending is a zero sum game. Every new dollar spent on dead-end ES research will steal from more promising avenues, including adult stem cell research.

So what's behind the '"the embryonic-research economic juggernaut," as wheelchair-bound activist Jim Kelly puts it? Why, there's gold in them thar stem cells!

As I discuss in my New York Post piece, which also appeared today, "Embryonic Research Driven by Greed, not Science," patents on ES cells and material related thereto is making researchers and speculators into millionaires - all without treating a single patient. And what research is more dependent on taxpayer support than that which has no real benefit?

"People are dying, and they're going to continue to die, and people are paralyzed and will continue to stay paralyzed," says Jim Kelly, "all of them a victim of the embryonic-research economic juggernaut."

July 15, 2009 11:39 PM  ·  Permalink

Stem cell research "banned," says U.S. News

By Michael Fumento

"President Barack Obama will lift the eight-year ban on embryonic stem cell research on Monday, the White House has announced." So wrote Amanda Gardner for a Healthday item that ran in U.S. News & World Report under the headline "Obama to End Stem Cell Ban Monday." Meanwhile, even as individual states like California are spending $3 billion on research using the controversial cells ($6 billion, including interest), the National Institutes of Health has spent $373 million over the last six years for research on human embryos and $737 million for research on non-human embryos.

If that's a ban, would the government PLEASE ban my writing!

Actually, my AIDS book essentially was banned and it clobbered me. I guess it's a definitional thing . . .

July 13, 2009 05:30 PM  ·  Permalink

Embryonic stem cells to the rescue! But when?

By Michael Fumento

Christopher Reeve supported ESC research because he thought it would help him, not future generations. Likewise for such influential advocates as Michael J. Fox and Michael Kinsley. But while there are over 70 treatments or cures with adult stem cells and about 1,300 clinical trials there has yet to be a single clinical trial with ESCs and none are planned for the near future. Much more common are claims by people like USC's Hans Keirstead, who says he'll begin clinical trials "next year." It must be true because he's been saying it since 2002. ESC lobbyists have their excuses lined up as to why progress is so slow but they don't wash. ESCs are simply incredibly difficult to work with . Says who? How about James Thomson, whose lab initiated the first human ESC cell line back in 1998. He also puts the kibosh on claims that all the wonderful ESC miracles are just ten years away. He uses the term "decades," meaning 20 years minimum and a maximum of . . . ? Read about it in my article in the May issue of The American Spectator.

May 6, 2007 09:41 PM  ·  Permalink

The Moot Attack on a Pioneering Stem Cell Paper

By Michael Fumento

Oh joy; oh joy! The original paper finding that a type of adult stem cell can become mature cells from all three germ layers - and hence any type of cell in the body - turns out to be false. Or so some backers of massive extra taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell (ESC) research would have us believe. But t'ain't so, as I write in today's American Spectator Online.

That paper, published in Nature in 2002 by Catherine Verfaillie and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, has been investigated and irregularities have been found. Those might include problems in the conclusion of the paper. But that hardly means that those particular stem cells (from rodent marrow) don't do what Verfaillie claimed. In fact, one researcher has replicated some of Verfaillie's findings with human cells. At this point, Nature has neither requested a retraction nor has Verfaillie offered one. Contrast that with what happened in January of last year when the journal Science was forced to retract two groundbreaking ESC studies that proved totally fraudulent.

More importantly, since that Verfaillie paper appeared a large number of labs have used a wide variety of adult stem cells to make mature cells in either two or all three germ layers. Anthony Atala's work reported in January using amniotic stem cells is only the latest. Thus even if the Verfaillie paper were "false," it would be like saying a recent discovery that the Wright Brothers falsified their documentation shows that planes can't actually fly.

March 1, 2007 07:32 PM  ·  Permalink

So much for "only" a decade till we have ES Cell Treatments

By Michael Fumento

"Adult stem cells cure and treat more than 70 diseases and are involved in almost 1,300 human clinical trials," I noted in my recent Daily Standard article "Code of Silence." Meanwhile there's never been so much as one clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Researchers admit we won't have approved embryonic stem cell treatments for at least 10 years."

I concluded by questioning the morality of turning larger amounts of federal research money over to ESC research when all they promise is promise - a decade out, at that. Well, as Gomer Pyle was wont to say: "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" Some ESC researchers are admitting that a decade is far too optimistic. "Some" means James Thomson, who along with his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1998 became the first scientist to isolate a line of stem cells from a human embryo.

In addressing the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual convention at Lake Delton, Wisconsin, Thomson pointed out that obstacles to therapeutic ESC research are daunting. "I don't want to sound too pessimistic because this is all doable, but it's going to be very hard," he said, and "it's likely to take a long time." As to how long, the Associated Press writer present characterized it as "likely decades away." Do the math with me. Two decades is 20 years, but Thomson didn't specify how many. It could be three or four decades.

As to what we can expect from those therapies, As the AP put it: "One day, some believe the cells will become sources of brain tissue, muscle and bone marrow to replace diseased or injured body parts." How truly exciting! Stem cells from bone marrow have been used for decades to create new bone marrow for cancer victims. In the last few years they have been used by doctors all over the world to rebuild human heart tissue. At least one experiment used these stem cells to therapeutically rebuild human liver tissue. Finally, bone marrow stem cells have been successfully used to treat brain diseases like Parkinsonism in animal models and assuredly will soon enter human testing. How soon? Well, probably a lot earlier than "decades."

Personally I'm just waiting for ESC research advocates to announce that, given enough money and decades of time, they'll also build a computer with the processing power of a give-away pocket calculator.

February 13, 2007 04:20 PM  ·  Permalink

Stem Cell Breakthroughs and Coverups

By Michael Fumento

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.

As I observe in the February 8 Daily Standard, Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported that stem cells in the amniotic fluid that fills the sac surrounding the fetus may be just as versatile as embryonic stem cells. At the same time they maintain all the advantages that have made adult stem cells such a success.

This has caused great consternation on the part of those seeking increased taxpayer embryonic stem cell funds. The reason is that there are currently no practical applications for this type of cell. There hasn't even been a single clinical trial involving them. Researchers admit we won't have approved embryonic stem cell treatments for at least 10 years. So they seek to downplay the Atala findings, claiming among other things that human trials are years away. Yes, they sure are. An amniotic stem cell is the same as a placental one. There was one placental stem cell clinical trial reported in America's leading medical journal in 1996 and another in 1998. If you count back, that's "years away."

Meanwhile the New York Times decided Atala's work wasn't "fit to print." The given explanation is a readily demonstrable lie, just as the Times lied two years ago when it claimed there wasn't a single treatment or cure involving adult stem cells. Read all about it!

February 8, 2007 10:53 PM  ·  Permalink

The NY Times stem cell coverup

By Michael Fumento

A reader wrote in to the "Public Editor," an online ombudsman at the The New York Times, asking why a study of the potential of amniotic stem cells (and their potential to make embryonic stem cell research obsolete) didn't appear in the newspaper, notwithstanding write-ups on the front pages of The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.

In fact, virtually everybody who was anybody wrote about it. The Times responded that its "genetics reporter, Nicholas Wade,

. . . looked at the Atala paper last week and deemed it a minor development. Nicholas noted: "It reports finding 'multipotent' stem cells in amniotic fluid. Multipotent means they can't do as much as bona fide embryonic stem cells (which are called 'pluripotent'). So the cells really belong in the adult stem cell category, even though the authors claim an 'intermediate' status for them." Nicholas further noted that there had been previous reports of multipotent stem cells, which were much heralded at the time but then seemed to go nowhere."

I posted the following response:

Wade is flat-out wrong. Although I have read the full paper, you need go no further than the online abstract at PubMed to read that the amniotic stem cells were differentiated "into cell types representing each embryonic germ layer, including cells of adipogenic, osteogenic, myogenic, endothelial, neuronal and hepatic lineages."

Translation: The amniotic cells carry the same potential as embryonic stem cells to become each of the 220 cell types in the human body. As to "similar cells," Wade is right but not in the way he'd have you believe. Amniotic stem cells are the same as those from placenta. Almost six years ago, scientists at Anthrogenesis Corporation announced they'd discovered stem cells that were readily harvestable in great numbers from placenta and convertible into all germ layers. PubMed now lists over 500 articles concerning "placenta" and "stem cells," indicating that a tremendous number of scientists find amniotic/placenta cells to be of tremendous interest even if Nicholas Wade and The New York Times do not.

I could also have added that this was the same newspaper that in 2004, in a Gina Kolata article, declared of adult stem cells "The problem is in putting them to work to treat diseases. So far, no one has succeeded." In fact there were about 70 ASC cures or treatments at the time, dating back to the late 1950s. The bottom line is the Grey Lady supports increased federal funding for ESC research - research that has yet to even be tested on a human being - to the point of outright lying over advances in alternative stem cell therapy. They don't call it "The Slimes" for nothing, folks.

January 20, 2007 01:11 PM  ·  Permalink

Election won't help embryonic stem cell research funding

By Michael Fumento

"Advanced Cell Technology Inc., Geron Corp. and other stem cell companies rallied as Democratic wins in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate raised hope for increased government funding for research," according to the Bloomberg news service. Why is difficult to see. It did quote Leonard Zon, a Harvard University researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston who works with ESCs saying, "This election demonstrates that the majority of Americans want this research to move forward." Fancy that, and you thought the election hinged on such factors as Iraq. You may as well argue that the GOP lost so many seats because Sen. Majority leader and Republican Bill Frist is a strong supporter of increased federal ESC funding. But no, the election wasn't a referendum on ESCs and as it happens the only legislation that Bush has vetoed was one that would let ESC companies feed more at the government trough than they already do. It's doubtful that a pickup of six Senate seats would give an ESC funding bill a veto-proof majority.

Meanwhile, adult stem cells continue to perform the real miracles. Last week a team of scientists at Newcastle University in Britain announced it had grown tiny sections of human liver. These will be used to test drugs so as to avoid the risks associated with testing drugs on humans. Originally, ASCs could only be used to treat cancer and many in the media and ESC research community would have you think that's still all they do. But in recent years they've been used to treat and outright cure numerous diseases and rebuild body organs such as skin, hearts, and livers. Now they've become a method for testing the safety of drugs.

In yet another miracle, blind mice (and more than three of them) achieved normal blood circulation in the retina, had significantly improved retinal tissue, and responded to light after researchers at the Scripps Research Institute treated them with adult bone-marrow-derived stem cells from both mice and humans. The research has implications for future treatment of degenerative eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. True, it's just a future application -- as is every ESC promise we're given. On the other hand, for the last few years persons suffering from limited vision or outright blindness from corneal defects have had their vision restored through corneal stem cell transplants. Pardon the pun, but it's not hard to see why any increase in federal funding for stem cells need to go to the adult variety.

November 8, 2006 08:37 PM  ·  Permalink

Yet another multipurpose adult stem cell

By Michael Fumento

Probably the most important disinformation spread by embryonic stem cell research proponents (and hence opponents of the far-more-advanced adult stem cell research) is that ASCs can't become any type of cell other than what they normally would become. That is, a marrow or blood stem cell can only become marrow or blood, a skin stem cell can only become skin, and a neuronal stem cell can only become neurons. Yet over the last several years, one research team after another has found that just isn't the case. The latest, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is the first to find they can "tease" follicular stem cells out of their predestined lineage. Already these cells are being used to grow skin grafts on a commercial basis, which is great. But the U. Penn researchers, writing in the American Journal of Pathology, found they could also differentiate follicular stem cells into nerve cells and smooth muscle cells. Thus they could be used to effect repairs in the brain or spine as well as fixing various organs. Their report only concerns results in a Petri dish, but they're already testing their new stem cells on animals. Yet the greedy researchers who push their ESC research over HUMAN research will no doubt seek (and with the help of the media) succeed in perpetuating their myth for years to come.

August 4, 2006 07:18 PM  ·  Permalink

Sometimes you just want to scream

By Michael Fumento

I have written repeatedly on how the media have thrown in their lot with embryonic stem cells (ESCs), quite often to the point of simply ignoring advances with adult stem cells while grossly exaggerating "breakthroughs" with ESCs. But this takes the cake. In the Washington Post, Rick Weiss writes of German researchers finding stem cells in mice testes (Actually, he writes "Male mice testes" as if a whole lot of female mice have testicles) and quotes the researchers saying that they are so pliable that they may be able to do absolutely anything that ESC backers claim ESCs can do. Weiss's headline? "Embryonic Stem Cell Success." Aaaaaaargh!

March 27, 2006 06:20 PM  ·  Permalink

You found stem cells WHERE?

By Michael Fumento

It's been a few years since I observed that scientists seem to find adult stem cells wherever they look. Well now Japanese researchers have harvested stem cells from human menstrual blood, according to a report just released at a medical conference. That's not nearly as strange as it sounds, since it's been known for some time that placenta and umbilical cord blood are an excellent source for them. Besides, when I said "wherever" they look, I meant just that.

At the meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers from Keio University in Tokyo collected menstrual blood from six women and harvested stem cells that originated in the lining of the uterus. They said they were able to obtain about 30 times more stem cells from menstrual blood than from bone marrow, which remains the most common source of adult stem cells. They then differentiated these into heart cells. (The use of marrow cells to repair heart muscle is on the cusp of becoming routine.)

What's the importance of this? To date, the much-celebrated embryonic stem cells have yet to cure or treat a single human being. Their "magic" lies strictly in their potential to become any type of the approximately 220 mature cells in the human body. One response to this is that beginning in 2002, almost countless teams of scientists began discovering adult stem cells that formed all three germ layers that give rise to those 220 cells. Another is that even if adult stem cells are less pliable, if you find them in enough places and can cultivate them easily enough then you don't need "one size fits all."

Get the word out: embryonic stem cells are the cold fusion of biology. And you men with an inordinate disgust at menses, maybe you'll have a new-found respect for tampons and sanitary napkins.

March 17, 2006 11:54 AM  ·  Permalink

Antibodies and adult stem cells treat paralysis

By Michael Fumento

The New Scientist reports that two antibodies that enabled the severed spinal nerves of rats to be regenerated will be tested in humans. The treatment allowed rodents with damaged spines to walk again, as well as climb ladders and swim. And rats don't even like to swim. The antibodies block the action of Nogo, a protein that stops nerve cells from sprouting new connections.

But researchers think this may not be enough for complete recovery, which is where the research of Geoffrey Raisman at University College London comes in. He has been transplanting stem cells from the back of the nose onto the spinal cords of animals for years and will begin human clinical trials this year. Other doctors have already been using these cells to treat individual patients, claiming to have some success, but they have yet to publish their work.

February 9, 2006 10:50 PM  ·  Permalink

Nobody here but us embryonic stem cells

By Michael Fumento

I have repeatedly written that efforts to downplay the importance of adult stem cells often go so far as to even deny their existence, even though they've been curing people since the 1950s, now cure or treat over 70 types of cancer, cure or treat myriad other diseases, and are involved in over 900 clinical trials. Here we go again. Rick Weiss, writing in the Washington Post about the Korean embryonic stem cell scandal, declares on page A1 of the newspaper: "The scandal also has delivered a body blow to stem cell science, a field of research born just seven years ago . . ." He's not even correct about embryonic stem cells. They were first discovered in rodents in the 1950s but researchers then, as now, found them so difficult to work with that the first human embryonic stem cell line was created only in 1998, and it's to that which he refers. There is no hint in the article that any other type of stem cell -- fake or otherwise -- exists.

January 2, 2006 02:16 PM  ·  Permalink

Another breakthrough with adult stem cells and hearts

By Michael Fumento

It's becoming old hat that infusions of stem cells from marrow rebuild both heart tissue and vessels after coronaries, something once thought impossible. But a large new German study considered what would happen if the marrow cells were administered shortly after the heart attack, as opposed to waiting until the tissue had already scarred over.

Heart attack survivors infused with stem cells from their own marrow showed nearly twice the improvement in the organ's pumping ability as patients given a placebo. Those who benefited the most were those who had suffered the greatest damage, the researchers said at the American Heart Association annual scientific meeting. The lead author noted that current intervention are "intended only to limit further damage to the heart," while stem cell therapy has the potential not only to limit further damage, but to regenerate heart function."

Meanwhile the number of humans helped in any way, shape, or form by those "miraculous" embyronic stem cells remains at, um, let's see here. Ah, there we go: Zero.

November 14, 2005 02:15 PM  ·  Permalink

Marrow Stem Cells Transformed Into Living Human Liver Tissue

By Michael Fumento

British scientists report in The New Scientist that they have repaired patients' damaged livers by using bone marrow stem cells painlessly collected from their own blood. Patients were first injected with a drug that stimulates their bone marrow to produce extra stem cells, which are then injected into a vein or artery leading directly to the liver.

The scientists said the adult stem cells from the marrow appeared to home in on damaged portions of the liver and affect repairs. This could lead to regenerating diseased livers, avoiding both rejection problems from donors -- not to mention that there aren't nearly enough such donors and many people die each year awaiting this critical organ.

Both liver function and overall health of three out of five treated patients improved significantly within two months of treatment, according to the researchers. The two patients whose health did not improve were no worse off for having received ASCs. The researchers are now planning a follow-up trial on 18 more people with liver disease, using an improved technique.

Actually, the rebuilding of human liver tissue was first observed over five years ago in autopsies of persons who had received bone marrow transplants for other reasons. Notwithstanding this, Science Magazine, a notorious advocate of embryonic stem cell research, later published a paper by Irving Weissman, himself a notorious advocate of ESC research, claiming that in a rodent study an infusion of marrow stem cells "did not contribute appreciably to [such tissues] as brain, kidney, gut, liver, and muscle." He smugly presented this single animal study as the end of the line for tissue building from marrow stem cells and the media bought it. Similarly, virtually no American publication (and only a few British ones) covered the revelation in The New Scientist. Making therapeutic progress with adult stem cells isn't easy, but making progress with the media is almost impossible.

October 10, 2005 05:34 PM  ·  Permalink

Never say the media can't keep a secret.

By Michael Fumento

Wesley J. Smith has a good piece in the Weekly Standard on the "baloney, baloney, and pure baloney" of embryonic stem cell hype, both in terms of progress (or lack thereof) and funding. Writes Smith, "When confronted with these and many other astonishing advances in non-embryonic research, ESC boosters defensively complain that ESC research has been stymied by President Bush's federal funding limitations. Yet in 2003, the National Institutes of Health funded more than $20 million for ESC studies--with more funds available but not spent, due to the relative scarcity of qualified applications."

Compared to ESCs, ASCs are 64-bit CPUs versus punch cards that don't even work yet -- and may never. One website lists 74 ASC therapies already in use, but it's about two years old and there are far more now.

For example, it lists "cardiac disease" as a potential future application but the use of marrow stem cells for rebuilding hearts (both muscle and blood vessels) is moving from experimental to therapeutic. Conversely, not only are there no ESC treatments; there has never even been an ESC clinical trial. As I write this there are 850 ASC clinical trials. (Check-mark the box in the upper left-hand corner.)

Taking money away from ASC research to give to ESC research is pretty much tantamount to murder.

September 29, 2005 12:56 PM  ·  Permalink

Adult Stem Cells Repair a Human Spinal Cord Injury?

By Michael Fumento

Some months ago Korean researchers claimed to have allowed a paraplegic of 19 years, a 37-year-old woman, to walk again with a treatment that included an injection of umbilical cord stem cells into the injured area. At first I welcomed this development with open arms, then since nothing was appearing in a peer-reviewed medical journal I became skeptical. Well, it's appeared. Specifically, it's in the latest issue (Sept. 2005) of Cytotherapy. "The patient could move her hips and feel her hip skin on day 15 after transplantation," wrote the researchers. "On day 25 after transplantation her feet responded to stimulation. On post operative day (POD) 7, motor activity was noticed and improved gradually in her lumbar paravertebral and hip muscles." She could soon maintain an upright position by herself. "41 days after [stem cell] transplantation" testing "also showed regeneration of the spinal cord at the injured site" and below it.

At a press conference, the woman demonstrated that she could walk with the help of a walking frame.

My thanks to Wesley J. Smith for bringing this to my attention, and he cautiously notes "one patient" doesn't equal "treatment." I also remain a bit skeptical because after 19 years, no matter how much physical therapy you get, your muscles atrophy to mush. A perfect repair of the spine can't overcome this although with enough time and effort a person could get her muscles back in shape. But we know that similar results in spinal repair have come from animal experiments. Whatever happens in this case, adult stem cells will eventually allow those with paralysis to walk again.

September 26, 2005 04:54 PM  ·  Permalink

How 'bout those fetal stem cells! (Yawn.)

By Michael Fumento

Once again the media show either their ignorance or bias or both in reporting on stem cells, this time regarding a study finding that fetal stem cells can help restore movement in mice whose spinal cords have been severed. Mind you, these are not the media's favorite type of stem cell, the embryonic variety. Rather these would fall into the category of "adult" stem cells in the same way stem cells from placenta and umbilical cords do. So no, this isn't a boost for embryonic stem cell research. Moreover, it's old hat. As I wrote in a column in May, 2005: "Research showing partial regeneration of injured rodent spines from adult stem cells goes back a decade, and is now undergoing human testing. Others have used mature Schwann cells from the brain to regenerate animal spinal tissue." Sure the media ignored these developments, but they happened just the same.

September 21, 2005 11:53 PM  ·  Permalink

Heads I win; Tails You Lose

By Michael Fumento

It's a familiar pattern with advocates for more federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. They make an unproved claim and the media simply swallow it. ESC backers would never lie about or even fudge anything; they're all saints in the making. Now we find that one of their major claims of an advantage ESCs have over adult stem cells, which have already been curing people of disease for decades, is apparently false. That alleged advantage is that while ASCs "peter out" fairly quickly in Petri dishes ESC lines live on and on. It was never really an important distinction, insofar as we don't need permanent ASC lines. We just need to be able to culture them for a short time before injecting them back into the person from whom they were originally drawn or into a new recipient. But as it happens, it now appears the claim was false anyway. After awhile, as with making photocopies of photocopies, lines of ESCs start to decay. This introduces mutations that can cause cancer in recipients IN ADDITION to the natural tendency of ESCs to cause cancers called teratomas. So this is one more blow against the science of ESCs and against using precious taxpayer funds to support them, right? Wrong! " The findings, reported Sunday by an international team of scientists, could help those who have been calling on President Bush to allow the use of federal money to create fresh stem cell colonies," reports the Washington Post. In other words, yet another failure of ESC technology calls for yet another infusion of federal funds. These guys have it all figured out.
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