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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. David Prentice’

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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Teens at workshop

Rapt Teens for Life audience at KFL convention workshop

For a long time, Kansas was on the map as an abortion-friendly state. But the persistence of pro-life Kansans reversed that, and that indomitable spirit was on display Saturday at Kansans for Life’s state convention.

A big turnout at the Wichita Hyatt Regency began with a prayer breakfast and closed with a concert. In between, convention-goers were the beneficiaries of intense tutorials, workshops, panel discussions, and camaraderie.

There were three different program tracks throughout the day—General Audience, Latinos for Life, and Teens for Life.

close in teens

Teens at KFL convention

“Latinos and Teens,” said Convention organizer, KFL’s Development Director David Gittrich, “were especially energized to get equipped to educate and involve their peers in the effort to defend innocent human life.”

Comments from participants in all three tracks were extremely positive and many expressed their gratitude for the event.

The opening general session featured two of NRLC’s top talents: Burke Balch, director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, and Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation. The husband and wife team offered a joint exposition on “Pro-Life Lessons from Lincoln.”

This was a riveting explanation of the role the courts played in the civil rights movement, and how we can match those successes in the courts today using NRLC-supported legislation. One attendee said, “This is an absolutely remarkable defense of a strategy that will succeed!”

The afternoon general session featured international stem-cell expert, Dr. David Prentice, now at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, presenting an update on the successes of ethical stem cell therapies. Dr. Prentice is a founding member of the first-of-its-kind Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center, now in its third year of operation.

Gov. Brownback, NRLC's Mary & Burke Balch, Lt. Gov. Colyer

Gov. Sam Brownback, Mary & Burke Balch, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer

The audience was enthralled with the amount of stem cell clinical trials that are helping patients, including Kansans, and the medical marvels now occurring.

There was a broad selection of workshops available, including The Unborn Child’s Pain Capability, Why Judicial Reform is a Pro-life Issue, Threats to Receiving Life-sustaining Care in Kansas, and An Obamacare Alternative.

Latino and Teen tracks included topics tailored to their viewpoints and strengths.

Latinos for Life workshop

Latinos for Life workshop

Kate Gruver, from Pure and Simple, was a convention presenter and facilitated the Teens for Life track.  She said she was gratified to have so many people — including attendees from another state! “The teens were full of passion in their ‘standing for life,‘ and enjoyed learning from new perspectives,” she said.

Mary Spaulding Balch, did the “lifeboat” rationing exercise with the Teen track, and was very impressed to see so many young people who are passionate about protecting the lives of unborn children and the medically dependent.

“Their zeal is contagious,” she said. “Their participation is encouraging. The future looks bright.”

The Latinos for Life events “were very well received, with enthusiastic interaction,” reported Anna Myers, KFL’s Director of Hispanic Outreach.  The entire Latinos for Life track was in Spanish and attendees came from the far west to east end of the state.

It was Myers’ inspiration to close the convention with a highly successful Rondalla concert/rally featuring a variety of stringed musicians, and gospel singers.convention, Latinos for Life rondalla

Closing remarks for the day were delivered by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, and Gov. Sam Brownback. The Governor detailed 15 pro-life measures he had signed into law and told the happy crowd, “Kansas is pro-life and we are not going back!”

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Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, with health committee presenters: Dr. David Prentice, stem cell patient Richard Walters, Dr. Dana Winegarner, & Director Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, with health committee presenters: Dr. David Prentice, stem cell patient Richard Walters, Dr. Dana Winegarner, & Director Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn

What was once only a dream has become a reality– the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center will host its inaugural in-depth educational conference about adult stem cell treatments Saturday, Nov. 23 in Kansas City. See details here.

The purpose of this conference (which provides continuing education credits) is to update health professionals and trainees about advances in therapy with adult stem cells, as well as explaining adult stem cell biology and its potential for tissue and organ regeneration.

Adult stem cell treatments in the form of bone marrow transplants have been used for many years to successfully treat leukemia and related bone/blood cancers. The scientific community is now focusing on additional therapeutic options including organ repair. The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center was created this year by the Kansas Legislature, (read here) under the leadership of Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, in order to:

  • facilitate the “translation” of basic stem cell research findings into actual clinical applications;
  • multiply clinical grade stem cells obtained from adult tissues, cord blood, and other sources, excluding embryonic and fetal;
  • increase the number of patients receiving stem cell treatments;
  • educate medical professionals and the public;
  • create and maintain a global database of available stem cell trials and therapies.

The Center’s director is Buddhadeb Dawn, M.D., current director of the KU Med Center’s Cardiovascular Division, who has been engaged in promising adult stem cell therapy for cardiac repair. International stem cell expert, Dr. David A Prentice, has been appointed to the Center’s 15-member advisory board.

Let your favorite medical personnel know about this exciting conference!

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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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