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.
I'm confused. They talk about stopping murder. You don't.
Thanks for explaining about fragmented embryos. I thought you might have been saying that the "fragmented" embryos were "destroyed."
I needed the clarification for myself, and so I looked it up.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Has Failed to Produce Any Cures or Treatments
After nearly a decade of research on human embryonic stems cells, 25 years of research on animal embryonic stem cells, and over $500 million in federal funding, embryonic stem cell research has yet to deliver any cures or treatments. After 25 years of research, there are zero human clinical trials or proven therapies using embryonic stem cells.
Ethical Alternatives to Embryonic Stem Cells Exist
Embryos are not the only source of stem cells. Every one holds an unknown amount of stem cells that can be derived without harm or injury. These adult stem cells are capable of transforming into countless cell and tissues types have been located throughout the human body, including in the brain, muscles, blood, placentas and even in fat. Recently germ? line stem cells from testes have been successfully reprogrammed into pluripotent adult stem cells with the same potential of embryonic stem cells.
Stem Cells from Ethical Sources Are Now Treating Over 70 Diseases and Afflictions
Every useful stem-cell therapy developed to date has not required the destruction of human embryos. According to a June 2004 report prepared by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adult stem cells and stem cells from cord blood are currently being utilized to treat 72 diseases and the NIH is funding another 330 human clinical trials using these cells. Adult stem cell research has revealed potential treatment and cures for afflictions such as Buergers disease, bladder disease, lupus, heart failure, stroke, liver failure, nerve regeneration, genetic metabolic disease, and respiratory conditions such as emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. Other studies have shown that adult stem cells hold great potential to treat Parkinson's and diabetes. When asked at a June 2006 Senate hearing about the best avenues of research that could be pursued, Dr. James Battey, the director of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force responded, to me, the very most interesting thing is this frontier area of nuclear reprogramming, where you take a mature adult cell type and you effectively de-differentiate it back to the a pluripotent state.
Ethical Alternatives Should Be Pursued Rather Than Seeking to Save Life By Destroying Life
We all desperately want to find cures for the diseases that afflict our friends, families and neighbors. Yet in our quest to find these cures, we must not ignore or rationalize the tremendous moral questions posed by destroying living embryos, which is undeniably human life in its earliest stages. We are fortunate that ethical alternatives to destructive embryonic stem cell research exist and it is imperative that we first pursue these ethical alternatives before even considering investing in research that requires destroying life to save life.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Diverts Funding Away From More Promising Research
Over the past five years, Congress has increased funding for ESCR every year and increased annual funding almost four-fold, despite zero results. This bill seeks to increase federal ESCR funding even more, despite the lack of results and the existence of ethical alternatives that has a multitude of proven results and offers countless benefits from future research. Every dollar spent on research that does not yield results is one less dollar that could have been invested in research on ethical alternatives that are already yielding cures. Again, 25 years of embryonic stem cell research has produced zero cures.
Embryonic Stem Cells Have Dangerous Side Effects That May Require Other Unethical Practices to Remedy
In experiment after experiment, embryonic stem cells have demonstrated that they may be too taratogenic for therapeutic purposes. It is not uncommon in experiments on mammals for the animals to be killed by tumors. Uncontrollable growth of cells is one of the main reasons embryonic stem cells can not be tested in human subjects. As a consequence, cloning embryos and then destroying them to extract their stem cells or allowing embryos to develop into fetuses so that their organs can be cultivated may be the next step, but both techniques pose additional scientific, moral and ethical dilemmas.
Adult Stem Cells Have Consistently Outperformed Embryonic Stem Cells for Therapeutic Purposes
Virtually every breakthrough announced using embryonic stem cells in animal models has been preceded by a similar feat with often greater results using adult stem cells.
Very Few Surplus Embryos Are Available for Research
Proponents of destructive embryonic stem cell research claim that surplus embryos are going to be discarded anyway. A RAND study has found that to the contrary, very few embryos are expected to be discarded. The vast majority88.2% are designated for family building and another 2.3% are being donated to other families for adoption. According to the RAND study, embryos available for research do not have high development potential and very embryonic stem cell lines could be created from the embryos available for research. This means that embryos would have to be created specifically for destruction is additional stem cell lines were to be created for research.
Patients Need Cures Not False Hopes
Leading proponents of research on embryonic stem cells are themselves lowering expectations that dramatic cures to diseases such as Alzheimers. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that Lord Winston, the most prominent embryonic-stem-cell researcher in the United Kingdom, said that hopes for cures had been distorted by arrogance and spin. I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion, Winston told the British Association for the Advancement of Science. A leading embryonic stem cell researcher in South Korea who hailed some of the most promising advances in the field has admitted to falsifying his research. Exaggerated predications and expectations used to promote embryonic stem cell research exploit patients and families desperately seeking cures.
Wasted Treasure indeed! God has provided a system whereby the newly conceived build an organ for survival in the water world of the womb and this entire organ, complete with astonishingly plastic stem cells is most often discarded upon birth into the air world. Truly, a wasted treasure now that Science has learned how to save lives with this amazing organ and its stem cells.
If studying embryonic stem cells holds such promise, why is there not a broad range and numerous research being done with higher mammals not in the human species? And since there are many, why do the research on human embryos at this stage especially?... There is an agenda connected to this exploitation of embryo aged humans, and it is directly related to the democrat program of defending the evil of abortion for so long ... the more early human life is exploited, the more likely that society will forget about the evil democrats have pushed as their empowerment scheme.
Embryonic stem cell research is basically just a way to promote abortions, making people think they are somehow therapeutic and for the good of all. The only stem cells that have worked so far have been adult stem cells, but nobody wants to spend money on that research because it has no ideological objective.
Please FreepMail me if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.
There is quite a bit of ESC research being done on animals, but it is being somewhat inhibited by the lack of funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Scientists have careers to build, and often become highly specialized fairly early in their careers. No doubt many are steering away from ESC research of any kind, due to concern about long-term prospects for funding, and also the wider availability of near-term funding for both animal and human ASC research.
Personally, I think all biomedical research should be privately funded, except that which is clearly related to truly public health matters (e.g. bioterrorism threats, highly communicable diseases like flu -- not AIDS, which is easily avoidable). But I strongly object to public funding of some types of non-public health research, to the exclusion of other types. Decisions about where to allocate research money should be made by scientists and their for-profit sources of capital, not by politicians and lobbying groups. That will ensure that money goes to the most promising areas of research, and at the right times. There are plenty of other areas of biomedical research that have also been horribly skewed by the politics of public funding, most notably the huge amounts of money spent on AIDS.
Google "preimplantation genetic diagnosis".
We banked the cord blood of our second and third children and regret no looking into it earlier. Viacell and many other cord blood companies are already doing what you suggest. I have asked my cord blood company if people don't want to bank their blood (read can't afford) they could donate it to their company. That do not do that, but it would be so easy to do.
Yes, but sadly, misguided celebs and disingenuous pols will push it as merciful and paint prolifers opposed to it as in league with the devil.
I'm busily looking for the link, but when I took a developmental psych course a few years ago, we learned of the horribly failed attempt to treat Parkinson's patients (advanced stage volunteers) - the results were frightening and they were unable to reverse them. Even the leftie prof was appalled.