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Posts Tagged ‘KUMC’

stem cell patients (2)If cell therapies are indeed becoming the ‘Third Pillar of medicine’ —the title of a symposium today at the University of California at San Francisco—Kansas has positioned itself to become the global clearinghouse of those treatments. Last Friday the legislature passed Senate Bill 199 creating the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

Gov. Sam Brownback, long a champion of non-embryo-destructive stem cell research during his tenure as U.S. Senator for Kansas, is anticipated to sign the legislation soon, along with the Pro-Life Protections Act, House Bill 2253.

SB 199 does not mandate tax funding, although some seed money in the Kansas annual budget is not entirely off the table yet when the legislature returns in May.  But the Center will actively pursue grants from private and public sources. For example, the numerous disease foundations as well as the U.S. military, dealing with thousands of injured veterans, would have a strong interest in donating to this project.

Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics and an international expert on the stem cell topic, has testified annually over the past decade to Kansas lawmakers about adult (non-embryonic) stem cell (ASC) treatments, including that:
•    1 in 200 Americans will undergo an ASC transplant in their lifetime;
•    over 60,000 ASC transplants occur globally each year;
•    there are over 2,600 ongoing, or completed, FDA-approved ASC trials.

As reported yesterday, the Vatican has said that its international conference this week on ethical stem cell research will aim to correct the public misperceptions of the burgeoning scientific field. The Washington Times quoted conference co-sponsor, Dr. Robin Smith,  “Regenerative medicine is poised to revolutionize disease management by finding new ways to boost the body’s ability to heal itself…

“People are dying, literally, who could be treated or cured.”

Even as the MSCTC was touted during debate on SB 199 as expanding cures and treatments that would end suffering for thousands, some Kansas lawmakers opposed it. Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) and Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) led opposition to this center as ‘meddling’ with university independence. They tried to imply that MSCTC was more pro-life politics than good science.

The real reason was sour grapes—most of these legislators have been on the wrong (and losing) side for a long time.  They and/or their mentors:
•    failed to prevent ethical limitations in the 2004 Kansas Bio-Science Authority Act governing state commerce,
•    failed to achieve embryonic stem cell and cloning initiatives from 2005-2007, and
•    failed to keep tax-funded abortion training at KUMC the past two years.

But pro-lifers won’t hold that grudge when those legislators and their families come to the MSCTC for treatments in the near future!

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Sen. President Susan Wagle

Sen. President Susan Wagle

Pro-life legislation is broader than just abortion limitations, as the pro-life Kansas Senate demonstrated by passing two measures today: SB 199, establishing an adult stem cell clearinghouse and therapy center, and SB 142, enhancing civil litigation rights for the unborn.

By voice vote Thursday,(UPDATE: final count 33-7) the Senate approved creating a novel and globally important Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas (KU). Before the vote was taken, Senate President, Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) provided a ringing endorsement.

“I am pleased to see this legislation, endorsed completely by KU. My son, Paul, relapsed in 2006 from leukemia after two and a half years of chemotherapy. We tested family members and could not find a match for bone marrow.

“We called Gov. Sam Brownback, who was U.S. Senator at the time, because he had worked for years to promote stem cell research. The governor connected us with a New York doctor doing research trials who had established a cord blood bank. We found a match with a baby in NY and Paul got the [resulting stem cell] treatment in Texas.

When you vote for this bill, you are planting a seed…this is about cures, saving lives and new research. I ask you all to vote for it.”

The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) asked her fellow Senators to consider that, “ everyone has some kind of disease in family that has caused tragedy, our family has Huntington’s Disease.  Kansas needs to be in the forefront to help people.”

Kansas City ethicist at Rockhurst University, Dr. John Morris, had testified in support of the center as a deterrent to the alarming phenomenon of “stem cell tourism” in which suffering Americans are lured abroad – largely via internet– for unproven stem cell applications by unqualified personnel. The proposed center will be located in the Kansas City metro area, and will:

•    treat patients,
•    process and multiply stem cells,
•    create a centrally-located global database,
•    network physicians and scientists, and
•    initiate educational outreach.

In other action Thursday, the Senate passed SB 142, “Civil Rights for the Unborn” by a vote of 34-5-1. SB 142 will ban any so-called “wrongful birth and wrongful life” lawsuits claiming that the child, in essence, is a ‘damage’.  Nine other states statutorily bar wrongful birth suits and ten statutorily bar wrongful life suits.

SB 142 also addresses civil suits brought on behalf of the wrongful death of an unborn child, so that they can be filed on behalf of a child throughout gestation, not just after viability. The unborn child in Kansas since 2007 has enjoyed such protection under criminal law, as the second victim when a pregnant woman is a victim of crime.

Both SB 199 and SB 142 now move to the House for consideration.

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Conferees Dr. DAvid PRentice and KFL's lobbyst,jeanne Gawdun

SB 199 conferees, Dr. David Prentice & KFL lobbyist, Jeanne Gawdun

Kansas Senate committees today worked, and passed out favorably, two pro-life measures.

The Senate Judiciary committee passed SB 142 [Civil Rights for the Unborn] and the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee  passed SB 199, to establish the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

Support for SB 199 came from KFL, pointing out that in 2006, despite heavy lobbying to support unproductive and unethical embryonic research, the Kansas legislature made the correct decision to support adult stem cell research by

  • enacting legislation to facilitate the recruitment of entities, and encourage strategic partnerships.
  • budgeting $150,000 to fund a KU adult stem cell research project using umbilical cord blood.

Overall the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee heard support for the novel KU Center from a stem cell patient, four doctors /researchers and a representative of KU. In addition, Rockhurst University ethicist John Morris submitted testimony (read it here) explaining the alarming phenomenon of “stem cell tourism”, in which patients travel abroad to obtain unproven treatments from unqualified personnel.

SB 199 conferee Dr. David Prentice has noted, “the Kansas City metropolitan area has become one of the strategic centers in the nation for life sciences.” Umbilical cord blood research is already being done at KU, using a discovery made at K-State (“Wharton’s Jelly”) so there’s no reason to delay establishing a global center here for stem cell treatment, research, and education. (see past posts here and here)

The Senate Judiciary committee passed SB 142, which was part of the 2012 Pro-Life Protections Act passed 88-31 last year in the House. SB 142 would

  • BAN any “wrongful birth/life” lawsuits claiming that the child, in essence, is a ‘damage’;
  • BROADEN civil suits on behalf of wrongful death of an unborn child to be filed throughout gestation, not just after viability.

TAKE ACTION : Both SB 199 and SB 142 are expected to go to the Senate for votes quite quickly to meet the Friday deadline for action on bills originating in each chamber. To contact your senator about either bill, you may use the roster here.

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Sen. mary Pilcher-Cook

Sen.  Pilcher-Cook

An exciting proposal establishing an adult stem cell center at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), was presented to a joint meeting of the Kansas Senate and House Health committees on Thursday and Friday.

Lawmakers heard from medical experts using adult stem cell (ASC) treatments, as well as patients and other experts in the field about the urgent need to establish a new center at KUMC that would conduct clinical research trials and co-ordinate education about this rapidly growing medical specialty.

Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics and an international expert on the stem cell topic, has testified several times to Kansas lawmakers on this developing field. He urged the creation of a hub for ASC treatments, information and medical networking. Prentice quoted recent science and medical journals that:

  • 1 in 200 Americans will undergo an ASC transplant in their lifetime;
  • over 60,000 ASC transplants occur globally each year;
  • there are over 2,600 ongoing, or completed, FDA-approved ASC trials.

Dr. Dana Winegarner, a Kansas City neurologist, although not on staff at KUMC, testified that no professional turf battles stand in the way. The problem is that busy practitioners cannot keep up with the rapidity of the stem cell developments; he said he has an app on his smart phone that notifies of breaking relevant medical data and that it registers over 60 hits a day. “During the time I leave for work and return at night, medicine has changed!”

Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn, Director of KUMC’s Cardiovascular Diseases Division and Research Institute, demonstrated how applications of stem cells regenerate damaged hearts and reviewed outcomes of national studies. Dawn said the list of diseases that can be cured with stem cells is ever-increasing  and thus there is a crying need for a center that can process and manufacture clinical grade stem cells as well as initiate clinical trials.

Patient Richard Waters, a participant in an adult stem cell program trial at KUMC testified that the stem cell heart treatment he received last year was not available in the United States when he had his earlier heart attacks. Testimony from Waters and videos of two other patients who’d undergone successful, remarkable medical treatment from non-embryonic stem cells fascinated the attendees in the packed room at the state Capitol.

Dr. Omar Aljitawi, part of KUMC’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, said that KUMC is involved in 2 major umbilical cord blood transplant trials, a treatment first done successfully in 1988. Kansas is home to the development of the  “Wharton’s Jelly” part of the umbilical cord, which offers much promise as a base material for multiplying cells for patient application. Aljitawi bemoaned the fact that so many sources of ASC were being discarded, and need to be developed and made available for a waiting populace.

Senate Health committee chair, Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) said a bill is being drafted to create a cutting edge ASC center at the KUMC campus in Kansas City, for which no model exists nationally–or globally.

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