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Archive for the ‘Human Embryonic Stem Cells’ Category

Kansas Democrat State Rep. John Wilson (left) expressed regret to MSCTC conferees Dr. David Prentice and Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn for not voting with the majority in 2013 to create the successful stem cell center.

Once in a blue moon, a lawmaker publicly admits he regrets how he voted. Those of us present at Tuesday’s hearing in the Kansas House Health & Human Services committee witnessed such a concession.

The focus of the hearing was the status report on the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC), given primarily by Board advisor, Dr. David Prentice and the Director, Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn. The room was packed and the presentation was positively uplifting.

Gov. Sam Brownback, along with the Kansas Legislature, had approved the formation of the MSCTC in 2013 to be housed at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. The Center is designed to serve as a regional hub of stem cell therapy, research, and education as well as an engine for increased processing of ethically-derived, “adult” stem cells (ASCs) for patient use.

There are numerous kinds of ASCs derived from different human tissues (see graphic). The point is that no ASCs require the destruction of human embryos.

In 2013, those paying careful attention to the stem cell issue realized the overblown expectations about the usefulness of stem cells derived from human embryos. Yet state Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence) was still unconvinced of the need to fund a patient-centered medical center using only non-embryonic stem cells. He voted against the measure, although the MSCTC passed.

On Tuesday, during the Q&A period, Wilson congratulated the Center for its success and acknowledged that he regretted voting against its creation. KFL later thanked Wilson for his remarks and joined him in his enthusiasm for the Center.

ADULT STEM CELL PROJECTS
Dr. Prentice, a native Kansan and frequent expert testifying on bioethical issues at the Kansas Statehouse, described ASC therapies as the “gold standard” in regenerative medicine, with over 1.5 million people having been treated to date, world-wide.

His presentation examined the real patients who are benefitting from the current therapies offered at the MSCTC, such as 300 patients annually receiving stem cells in collaboration with the KU Cancer Center.

Prentice detailed some specific projects already underway, some in pre-clinical research phase, and others in planning stages. They include numerous new and innovative uses for ASCs targeting the brain, heart, spinal cord, liver, and joints.

Of particular interest is the groundbreaking direction MSCTC is taking on “graft-versus-host” disease, which can be a serious complication for some bone marrow adult stem cell transplants. Graft-versus-host is a problem in which stem cells not derived from the patient are introduced into the patient to replace those lost through chemo/radiation, but the cells begin to attack the new “host” as foreign.

MSCTC’s director, cardiologist Dr. Dawn, is described by Prentice as one of the world leaders in cardiac repair technologies. With Dr. Dawn and other specialists at the Center, patients with severe heart ailments– formerly “without hope”– are given hope with adult stem cells.

Director Dawn pointed proudly to the Center’s accomplishments in a mere 3 ½ years, and described continuing efforts to collaborate with other scientists and private companies as well as develop methods and products that can be patented.

The fifth MSCTC annual conference is scheduled for September 15-16. Details about it and the Center can be found at http://www.kumc.edu/msctc.html.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, committed to advancing the use of ethical science, is proving itself to be everything we hoped for.

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mad scientist warningIn a disturbing but not unpredicted development, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last Thursday announced its support for expanded tax-funding of experiments in which human genetic material is combined with animals.

NIH will take public comment on the matter until Sept. 4 but—sadly– the agency has never changed directions based on negative public input.

For decades, researchers have engaged in ethically-noncontroversial mixing of human and animal cells such as growing human cancer tumors in mice to study disease processes and evaluate treatment strategies.  Also ethically-noncontroversial are therapies that utilize animal tissue, for example, using a pig’s heart valve for human heart repair, or other use of mammalian tissue in humans.

Stem cell research, however, is fundamentally different. “Pluripotent” stem cells can turn into any cell in the body, and when injected into animal embryos (as the new NIH proposals would allow) scientists don’t know what kind of new species will result. (See KFL post on hybrid creation controversy.)

UC-Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler, told the New York Times,

we lack an understanding of at what point humanization of an animal brain could lead to more humanlike thought or consciousness.”

David Prentice, board member of the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center in Kansas raised concerns about the results of injecting stem cells into animal embryos:

 “[N]ew forms of life—human-animal hybrids—could then be in view, or even the development of an animal with a largely human or fully human brain. NIH’s answer to objections like these seems to be to preclude such animals from breeding (this would likely not be 100 percent effective—just ask anyone who has run an animal facility)…If human-animal chimeras are allowed to be intentionally created for research, the door is also open to reproductive experiments, creating part-human organisms or designer animals to, say, carry out dangerous or degrading tasks human beings do not want to perform. Or donate organs these creations sacrifice for their human betters.”pigmanface

Research into creating animal–human hybrids is ongoing with private funding. Last September, NIH looked around at what was developing there and issued a moratorium on government funding of such projects. But after holding a November 2015 workshop, apparently all questions of acting responsibly have been abandoned and NIH is ready to plunge into this ‘brave new world’ of interspecies experiments.

Bioethics author Wesley J. Smith is not optimistic  about these developments:

“If we had a science sector that believed in the intrinsic dignity of human life, we could explore these potentially beneficent avenues of biotechnology with little concern that scientists would begin to blur vital distinctions or cross crucial ethical lines dividing human beings from fauna. Alas, we don’t live in that milieu and we can’t trust our regulatory bodies–which can be more controlled by the sectors they are supposed to regulate than the other way around–to maintain strict boundaries.”

DESTRUCTION OF EMBRYOS
Beyond the moral quagmire of mixing species, this kind of experimentation would destroy many human embryos. Read our KFL fact sheet about animal-human hybrids (also called chimeras), which includes reasons why pro-lifers should be opposed:

  1. The research on these procedures would destroy many human embryos. No matter what we might learn from watching cells grow in the conditions created by a chimera, the fact remains that researchers would be killing human embryos to get their cells.
  2. If the purposeful creation of human-animal chimeras is allowed for research purposes, it opens the door to abuse of the technique for reproduction, as well as creation of part-human organisms as bizarre designer humans or animals.
  3. It could produce an animal that produces human sperm or eggs.
  4. It could produce an animal with a human brain.

NIH should be halting these ethically-unmoored manipulations of the human-animal boundary. Instead, this agency is moving to sanction them and promote them with our tax dollars.

God help us.

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Kathy Mitchell, part of patent-awarded 'adult' stem cell team

newly-awarded U.S. patent, with fantastic ramifications for cures and treatments of conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, is further evidence of the importance of the recent lawsuit seeking to halt federal grants for embryonic research.

After seven years, Kansas State University’s Research Foundation has obtained proprietary rights for obtaining, culturing and banking “matrix” stem cells from the cushioning material (‘Wharton’s jelly’) inside umbilical cords, both human and animal.

Some of the purposes for these K-State-patented stem cells will be repairing nerve damage, cardiac muscle, and blood vessels.

Grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) helped the researchers achieve this breakthough in accessing a plentiful source of reparative stem cells that do not involve the destruction of embryos. (more…)

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A U.S. district court today slapped down President Obama’s order to ignore federal law banning federal tax-funding of destructive human embryonic research.

Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding that the federal lawsuit –filed by researchers whose work uses non-embryonic stem cells– would likely succeed.

The lawsuit against the National Institutes of Health argues that the Obama/NIH guidelines violate the 1996 ban against tax-funded embryo destruction,
and
effectually take funds from researchers seeking to work with adult stem cells.

UPDATE Aug 25: The Obama administration announced today it will appeal the decision while Colorado Democrat Congresswoman Diane DeGette who had filed legislation intended to codify Obama’s executive order says she plans to push to make such funding law before a predictably more conservative new Congress is elected. Media misreports the effect on current research.

In July 2009, Obama’s NIH policy went into effect,  overturning the protections President Bush put in place to protect taxpayers from having to fund stem cell research that destroys human life.

Despite the wailing about this ruling, privately-funded human embryonic experimentation continues.  UPDATE Aug. 27: Poll: 57% of Americans Oppose Tax Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The researchers who were granted standing to sue have been involved in non-embryonic research and have applied for NIH grants.

Their suit claims the government “dismissed or ignored (more…)

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As part of her 2006 Kansas gubernatorial re-election campaign, Kathleen Sebelius heavily promoted creating a “stem cell superhighway” between Kansas and Missouri, with the prime mover being the Kansas City-based Stowers Institute.

Such research would include destructive hESCR (human Embryonic Stem Cell Research) although great pains were taken to disguise the truth by always substituting the phrase “early cells” for embryos.

Amidst (false) cries from university scientists that hESCR cures were imminent, Stowers formed “Life-saving Cures” front groups in both states to misinform the public and to funnel plenty of money to lobbyists and politicians.

Stowers has kept several hESCR projects on the payroll,including Harvard’s George Daley, who has (more…)

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Stem cells from non-embryonic sources — also called ASC for “Adult stem cells”– are saving lives now and offering hope to patients who suffer from injury or more than 70 other diseases.

This past week saw 4 exciting announcements about new ASC successes, and a court decision advancing access to federal funding of such work.  First the lawsuit: a federal appeals court today has upheld the right of two scientists specializing in ASC to sue the Obama administration for funding destructive human embryonic research.

The lawsuit claims that Obama’s 2009 executive order harms their ability to be funded and violates the 1995 Dickey-Wicker budget amendment, renewed annually, that bans the use of federal tax money to harm human embryos.

Though the over-hyped and unethical use of human embryos remains unsuccessful (more…)

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for “embryo protection in research,” adopted by President Obama– are proving to be as tough as Barney Fife and as worthless as the public comments overwhelmingly indicated they’d be.

NIH definitions can be changed by executive order and now are being “fudged” in order to facilitate embryo harvesting and cloning.  According to stem cell expert David Prentice:

“The NIH guidelines are not ethical, they simply provide a recipe for human embryo destruction so that taxpayers’ funds can be used to reward the scientists.”

The guidelines are being massaged to remove an impediment to human embryonic experimenters, including Harvard’s George Daley.   With Gov. Sebelius’ blessing, the  pro-cloning Kansas City Stowers group, wanted to bring embryonic stem cell & cloning research here and thus heavily lobbied — along with KU– to weaken Kansas’ bio-science laws.

Arms of the Stowers Institute  set up front groups in Kansas and Missouri called ‘Coalitions for Life-Saving Cures’ to mislead the public about the need for destructive stem cell research.

This summer, the Kansas group disbanded and awarded their war chest to lawmakers, probably believing the public doesn’t need propaganda when the embryonic funding is flowing in an Obama administration.  Take note of who received donations in this state report: (more…)

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