Skip to comments.Embryonic Stem Cells Have Never Been Used to Treat Anyone and no Plans Exist to do so
Posted on 08/25/2006 6:22:33 AM PDT by Aussie Dasher
UNITED KINGDOM, August 23, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) Modern stem-cell advancements in umbilical cord blood have rendered human embryonic stem-cell research unnecessary according to a prestigious UK researcher, who calls cord blood the realistic future of stem-cell technology.
In this second part of an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Dr. Peter Hollands, the Chief Science Officer of the UK Blood Bank and early pioneer of embryonic stem-cell research, explains that embryonic stem-cell researchers will keep their public mandate unless a vast media campaign educates the public about the superior benefits and proven cures of cord blood.
In a previous interview, Dr. Hollands explained that the success of cord blood depends on its superior mesenchymal stem-cells found in the blood of the placenta and umbilical cord after a babys birth. These stem-cells possess unique properties giving them just as much potential as embryonic stem cells but without all of the related objections and technical concerns. (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06081804.html)
As a scientist, and even as a lay person, it is simple to see that cord blood as a source of stem cells for therapy and research is the easiest route to take, says Dr. Hollands. We have a never ending supply of cord blood and if we can start to collect and store this valuable resource instead of discarding it then we will start to make real progress in stem cell therapy and research.
However, Dr. Hollands takes issue with those who contend that patient therapies can be obtained from human embryonic stem-cells.
To claim that there are enough spare embryos in IVF clinics is nonsense, says Dr. Hollands. These embryos could not support the demand for stem cell transplants adding embryonic stem cells also have a tendency to form tumors on transplantation.
He adds, It is important to note that embryonic stem cells have never been used to treat anyone and that there are no plans to do so. In the UK for example we have invested millions in a national stem cell bank which contains approximately 6 different embryonic stem cell lines none of which are suitable for transplant.
Dr. Hollands says that embryonic stem-cell researchers have taken advantage of the public ignorance about stem-cells.
Currently the average person thinks that embryonic stem cells are the only option available [believing] if we are going to help those people suffering from disease then we have no option but to pursue embryonic stem cell technology. This is completely incorrect, maintains Dr. Hollands.
He adds, If the public knew that there is a source of stem cells, available at the birth of every child in the world, which carry no risk at all to anyone in their collection or production, then there would be immense public pressure to support cord blood stem cell technology.
Believing that the media and celebrities are responsible for the current confusion about stem-cells, Dr. Hollands advocates a counter strategy using the media and celebrities to educate and inform the public about the superior benefits of cord blood as a source of stem-cells. Dr. Hollands says a five pronged strategy would include:
-prime time TV/radio reports/interviews, -public education campaigns (TV/radio/media/posters/internet) -celebrity endorsement of cord blood stem cell technology (a key ally for embryonic stem-cell researchers) -politicians campaigning for cord blood stem technology -Newspaper reports on cord blood stem cell technology
Dr. Hollands argues that once the people are made aware that cord blood offers superior benefits over embryonic stem-cells then embryonic stem-cell groups will find it impossible to justify their actions.
However he believes that a real turnaround in the stem-cell debate needs someone, at the highest level, to realize that the wrong path has been chosen and to have the courage to change.
Rightly or wrongly there has been a massive investment in embryonic stem cell technology in time, money and resources, says Dr. Hollands, adding that many scientists have built their careers around human embryonic stem-cell research.
We should be focusing our time, money and expertise on cord blood stem cell technology, says Dr. Hollands. The sooner we stop wasting precious resources on embryonic stem cells research the sooner we will have stem cell cures for the people who really matter in all of this - the patients.
Reporters Note: A researcher in the stem-cell biology/clinical embryology field for over 25 years boasting a PhD from Cambridge University, Dr. Peter Hollands has worked on all types of stem-cells with the exception of human embryonic stem-cells. He worked as a clinical embryologist with the team that created the first ever test-tube baby at Bourn Hall Clinic, trained under Prof. Robert Edwards (the IVF co-inventor), and even set the groundwork for embryonic stem-cell research through the mouse-model. However, it was during his mouse-model research that Dr. Hollands realized the impossibility of transferring this technology to human beings, besides the violation of human life in destroying human embryos.
Hey, don't tell this to John Edwards. He might weep.
No research needed here. This is already being done by some private companies.
"One would expect complete compatibility of the specimen in future therapies. In the meantime, research should continue into how to best use this wasted treasure."
Actually, what needs to be done (and unfortunately for the libertarian philosophy, it's probably best done as a government program through the CDC) is to set up a storage infrastructure to type and store EVERY umbilical cord/cord blood that becomes available (i.e. EVERY birth). The samples should be split into three parts---one for the genotyping, one for future use by the donor, and one for use by the general public. With a large enough universe of genetic types, there should be stem cell cultures that will be a genetic match for virtually everyone.
There has not been one cure from ESCR, yet hundreds from other forms of stem cells that we already have. As evidenced by yesterdays "Scientists find 'ethical' embryonic stem cells" via MSNBC yesterday, (clue, the first contradiction is in the title with even more in the article), where it states "At an early stage (eight cells), one cell is taken out to use for a stem cell line... the embryo can go on to fully develop. Common sense tells you that cell is there for a reason; What was that one cell of eight, which would also divide many more times represent, and what would be missing for lacking it?
Oh, and it is an embryo.
You may want to check this and the other articles in the sidebar... they know it can't be easy to push this again...
Stem cell breakthrough more ore hype than hope
New technique raises more ethical questions than real answers
For anyone who wants to get "educated" on stem cells:
Fr. Tad (My friend, who taught me all the scientific ins and outs, with video)
The thread with many more links:
The Truth About Stem Cell Research
Dr. David Prentice
(video, takes time to load)
Coleus Stem Cell Post with many links:
FR's stem cell search page:
bump for later
There are thousands of perfectly normal healthy children running around today who had a cell or two plucked at the 8-cell stage for preimplantation genetic diagnosis. It has no effect on the development of the fetus. Furthermore, the techniques originally developed for that purpose are now being applied to removing abnormal fragmented cells from embryos, which would normally stop the embryo from developing. Embryos with fragmentation on which this procedure has been performed go on to develop into full term babies at a significantly higher rate than those that have the fragmented cells left in place.
The key to normal development is a preponderance of normal cells in an embryo, not having an exact number of cells at any given stage. In fact, many embryos which go on to develop into full term babies without any interference didn't have the "normal" 8 cells on Day 3 to begin with.
The ban on creating new embryonic stem-cell lines, imposed by President Bush in 2001, "has been detrimental, it has slowed the pace of research," Roop said.
Roop is well-established in his research on non-embryonic stem cells, with many millions of dollars of grant money and state of the art equipement and facilities, so he has no motivation to claim that embryonic stem cell research is important, if it isn't so.
As for Hollands' comments, he makes a couple of claims that are either deliberately misleading, or a sign that in his current position as head of the UK Blood Bank (which DOES give him obvious motivation to push the cord blood angle), he hasn't kept up with developments in the stem cell research field. He claims that embryonic stem cells aren't going to be used in treatments -- well nobody is claiming they are going to be directly used in treatments; they are to be used in research which is necessary to develop treatments. And as for ESCs "tendency to form tumors upon transplantation", that's hardly a relevant issue, because 1) nobody really expects to be transplanting them into patients anyway, and 2) adult stem cells also have a tendency to form tumors http://www.newscientist.com/channel/sex/mg18624965.200 .
Adult and umbilical stem cells have a great deal of potential, but that potential is likely to be fully realized only with the application of knowledge gained from embryonic stem cell research.
This is an oversimplified view of reality. Researchers want embryonic stem cells to figure out how they work. There're not interested in using them for treatments any time in the near future.
They'd like ot find out how they're different than adult stem cells. They'd like to know what genes are turned on and when that allow them to grow, group and become specialized cells. They'd like to find out how to turn on their regenerative functions.
The embryonic stem cell guys are here to stay. But the abortion industry that misleads everyone on the issues just wants to use this issue to push their pro-abortion agenda. This fight will never be over.
The real ethical issue is ethical not moral and is not the embryonicness or not of the stem cells. The sticking point is genetic alteration of human beings. It is kind of a hidden issue obscured by the massive politics of abortion and possible maybe new miracle cures as well as the embryo issues. Not one in 100 of those who oppose embryonic stem cell research understands the foundational issue.
It's going to get a lot more complicated as research progresses. Personally, I have no problem at all with early abortion, but even if I did, I couldn't possibly consider an embryo at this stage to be "a person". At that stage, the embryo can still be split in two, either naturally or artificially, and become twins (or even split again and become even more separate organisms). And two embryos at this stage can be squished together and become a single organism (this happens naturally, though apparently not as often as twinning -- but it's not clear if the detection rate accounts for a lot of the difference; there have been plenty of people discovered to be genetic mosaics in adulthood, when there had been no outward indication of this all their lives, and never would have been if some genetic test hadn't been performed for some other reason). And left on its own, created the natural way inside a woman's body, such an embryo only has about a 20% chance of ever developing into a baby anyway.
Right now, researchers aren't able to get a single cell at this stage to develop into a normal embryo with potential to continue developing into a baby (though getting 2 adjacent cells to do that has been possible). But that's likely to change, and I suspect that within 10 years or so, if not sooner, they'll be able to get a single embryonic cell to develop into a baby. Which begs two questions" 1) if you pluck one cell from an embryo and DON'T coax it into developing into a separate twin embryo, did you "kill a baby"? And for that matter, if you had a healthy 8 cell embryo in your petri dish, and just popped it into the mother as is, rather than splitting it up so it could become 8 babies, did you "kill 7 babies"?
There will always be people who trouble themselves over these questions. I'm not one of them, as I don't see the point of spending my life bemoaning an inexhaustible list of what-if's. What if a 13 year old girl whose parents wouldn't let her go over to her 14 year old boyfriend's house when his parents weren't home, HAD let her? A sperm might have fertilized an egg, and the resulting zygote might have developed into a wonderful baby who grew up and made valuable contributions to society. But they DID keep her home, thereby interfering with very natural processes and instincts, and that zygote was never formed, and the baby was never born, and never grew up to do anything.
Should I be sad or angry about this? Should I be protesting parental interference with natural adolescent instincts? Should I be urging people who DID get conceived and born that way to run around giving media interviews and testifying before legislatures, asking people "How can you say I shouldn't have been allowed to be conceived and be born?", and pushing legislation that would prohibit parents from interfering with their adolescents' sexual activity? Of course not. And I'm not going to worry about what happens to any 8-celled embryos either.
What became of the embryos whose fragmented cells were left in place?
And you needn't make any effort in this regard. Other people will explore the what-ifs, I am sure.
Sure. Look at AIDS research.
What if a 13 year old girl whose parents wouldn't let her go over to her 14 year old boyfriend's house when his parents weren't home, HAD let her? A sperm might have fertilized an egg, and the resulting zygote might have developed into a wonderful baby who grew up and made valuable contributions to society. But they DID keep her home, thereby interfering with very natural processes and instincts, and that zygote was never formed, and the baby was never born, and never grew up to do anything.
Should I be sad or angry about this? Should I be protesting parental interference with natural adolescent instincts? Should I be urging people who DID get conceived and born that way to run around giving media interviews and testifying before legislatures, asking people "How can you say I shouldn't have been allowed to be conceived and be born?", and pushing legislation that would prohibit parents from interfering with their adolescents' sexual activity?
You are very skilled at conjuring up long lists of what-ifs.
So are the people who insist that every zygote to 8-celled embryo should be treated as a full-blown human being. They even tote their kids born from adopted embryos to Washington, to display them while testifying before Congress with the exact sort of language I described.
These were studies conducted on embryos produced in IVF cycles. Some embryos had the fragments removed before they were transferred into the mother's uterus, others did not (perhaps different patients, but more likely different cycles with the same patients, for more valid comparison). A significantly higher percentage of the de-fragmented embryos successfully implanted and went on to become full-term babies.
Fragmentation is an indicator of poor prospects for an embryo to result in a baby. Some women produce nothing but fragmented embryos, and this procedure enables some of them to have babies, who otherwise wouldn't be able to.
Except there is no "ban" on creating new embryonic stem-cell lines, merely a ban on federal funding of such. I realize in the eyes of a lib that is pretty much the same thing, but I would assume you know better, right?
Therefore, I take Mr. Roop's comments with a large grain of salt.
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