News on stem cell research

Cord blood stem cells found to be pluripotent

A recent publication (July 19, 2004) in the Journal of experimental Medicine,1 a premier medical journal, announced the discovery that cord blood (blood from the umbilical cord of infants) contains cells that are pluripotent (have the ability to develop into virtually every kind of cell/tissue type). The researchers have shown the ability of these cells to grow bone, cartilage, hematopoietic (blood), neural (brain, spinal cord, nerves), liver and heart tissue. These cells have been grown in culture to produce up to 1,000,000,000,000,000 cells (the total number of cells found in 10 average adults) while still retaining their pluripotent potential.

One of the main arguments of those who favor destruction of human embryos is that adult stem cells (such as those from cord blood) are incapable of producing all the cell types needed for cell-based therapies. This study destroys the myth that adult stem cells cannot provide the therapies needed to treat the major catastrophic diseases of our time. The use of cord blood from newborns allows us to develop cell-based therapies without using morally and ethically reprehensible methods that are called for in Proposition 71.

Vote NO on Proposition 71!

Dr. Keith Black - No plans to use embryonic stem cells

Dr. Keith Black, renowned brain surgeon from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, commented on stem cell research at an October 24 brain tumor conference. Dr. Black is using adult stem cells to treat malignant glioma. He indicated that they have no plans to use embryonic stem cells because there are too many problems and he thought them unlikely to work. Of course, Prop 71 funds only embryonic stem cell research and does not fund adult stem cell research, which shows the most promise.

Vote NO on Proposition 71!

Stem cells stop mice going blind

An injection of adult stem cells saved the sight of mice who would otherwise have gone blind, researchers reported this week.2 The study raises the prospect that some forms of human blindness might be treated with cells from a patient's own bone marrow. The research team focused on a group of eye diseases called retinitis pigmentosa, in which cells in the retina break down over time, causing gradual loss of vision and sometimes blindness. There is currently no good treatment for the condition, which affects around one in 3,500 people. More...

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  1. Kögler, G. et al. 2004. A New Human Somatic Stem Cell from Placental Cord Blood with Intrinsic Pluripotent Differentiation Potential. Journal of Experimental Medicine 200: 123-135.
  2. Otani A., et al. 2004. J. Clin. Invest., 114. 765 - 774.