Significant Developments in Stem Cell Research

By Dillon, Kevin J. | Issues in Law & Medicine, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Significant Developments in Stem Cell Research


Dillon, Kevin J., Issues in Law & Medicine


12 HUMAN REPRODUCTION & GENETIC ETHICS 24 (2006).

Over the past year, adult stem cells have been used either exclusively or in combination with other treatments to achieve significant "healthcare benefits" for sufferers of the following conditions: brain tumors, ovarian cancer, solid tumors, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, anaemia, stroke, blindness, and immunodeficiency.

Furthermore, the future application of adult stem cells to treatment therapies, where clinical trials have already indicated significant potential benefit, include: Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, nerve damage, organ transplantation and/or growth, blood production, muscle regeneration, diabetes mellitus Type I and other pancreatic disorders, and heart valve replacement. Documentary evidence of the above cases of successful treatment using adult stem cells can be found in a host of journals.

The Report of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), failed to systematically represent the considerable body of research supporting the use of adult stem cells. The NIH outlines several very specific reasons why it believed that "adult stem cells may have more limited potential than embryonic stem cells."

First, the NIH claimed that "stem cells in adults are present in only minute quantities" and are "difficult to isolate and purify." This contradicts findings published in the March 2000 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which highlighted the fact that adult stem cells can now be grown to a billion-fold in the laboratory. Even the NIH itself recently conceded that stem cells can be produced to provide a "virtually limitless supply."

Second, the NIH asserted the opinion that invasive surgery would be required in order to obtain a source of neural stem cells to treat diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But this is also an outdated claim, given that the June 2000 edition of the journal Nature confirmed that neural stem cells can be regrown inside the brain without the need for open surgery. …

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