Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Advances in Adult Stem Cell Research

Two separate studies presented at the annual scientific meeting of the AABB detailed the continuing advances of cord blood stem cell research:
The first study analyzed four cases where an individual's own cord blood stem cells were released to treat aplastic anemia. The cord blood was processed and stored at Cord Blood Registry and the transplants were conducted at three different institutions. The cases suggest that autologous cord blood transplantation for aplastic anemia is a safe and effective treatment protocol and demonstrate that this approach is amenable to use at different treatment centers across the United States.

"Aplastic anemia is a life-threatening disease with no known cause that can be acquired at any time in life and is difficult to treat," said lead study investigator Dr. David T. Harris, Ph.D., professor of immunology at the University of Arizona and scientific director of Cord Blood Registry. "This study offers evidence that transplant physicians have a safe and effective weapon for combating this disease for patients who have access to their own cord blood stem cells."

The second report documented 13 cases of autologous cord blood stem cell use in both traditional and regenerative medicine applications. Sample release data suggest a rising demand for autologous cord blood over the last 10 years and an increase in samples requested for regenerative medicine applications.

In addition to the four cases of aplastic anemia (reviewed in detail in the first study), the report documented nine samples released for regenerative therapies:

* Two client samples were released for type 1 diabetes as part of an ongoing clinical trial at the University of Florida. Preliminary data from the first seven patients in the trial show the stem cell infusion appears to have reduced their disease severity, possibly resetting the immune system and slowing the destruction of their insulin-producing cells.
* Six samples were released to treat neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy (four samples), anoxic brain injury (one sample), and traumatic brain injury (one sample). Although these six samples were not released as part of any specific clinical trial, anecdotal evidence by physicians involved with these cases suggests that the treatments were safe, with some anecdotal reports of improvement in quality of life. Since the study period ended, two more samples were released for treatment of cerebral palsy.
* One additional sample was released for an experimental autologous stem cell infusion to treat a diagnosis of a rare immune disorder.

"Cord blood stem cells are increasingly being used by transplant physicians in regenerative medicine because of their demonstrated ability to produce almost all of the cell types of the body," said Harris. "These cases provide physicians and researchers with additional insight into how cord blood stem cells may be used to treat more conditions and ultimately benefit more patients."
To date, embryonic stem cell research has not shown any practical clinical use, while the body of clinical research on adult stem cell research continues to grow. And it begs the question, why is all the public money going to embryonic stem cell research?

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