Skip to comments.Korean Scientists Succeed in Stem Cell Therapy
Posted on 04/04/2005 5:41:34 AM PDT by Lori675
A team of Korean researchers claimed Thursday they had performed a miracle by enabling a patient, who could not even stand up for the last 19 years, to walk with stem cell therapy.
During a press conference, the scientists said they had last month transplanted multi-potent stem cells from umbilical cord blood to the 37-year-old female patient suffering from a spinal cord injury and she can now walk on her own.
The team was co-headed by Chosun University professor Song Chang-hun, Seoul National University professor Kang Kyung-sun and Han Hoon, Ph.D, from the Seoul Cord Blood Bank (SCB).
``The stem cell transplantation was performed on Oct. 12 this year and in just three weeks she started to walk with the help of a walker, Song said.
The patients lower limbs were paralyzed after an accident in 1985 damaged her lower back and hips. Afterward she spent her life in bed or in a wheelchair.
For the unprecedented clinical test, the scientists isolated stem cells from umbilical cord blood and then injected them into the damaged part of the spinal cord.
The sensory and motor nerves of the patient started to improve 15 days after the operation and she could move her hips. After 25 days, her feet responded to stimulation.
Earlier in October 2003, Songs team also staged a clinical test with stem cells originating from umbilical cord blood by injecting them into another patients spine.
``Back then we injected stem cells into spinal fluid and failed to get a good result. This time around, we directly targeted the spine and the method made a difference, Song said.
Songs team look to further test efficiency of the new therapy with four more patients as soon as they get the green light from Chosun University ethics board and the government.
Songs team plan to report their research to the scientific world within the first half of next year.
Immeasurable Upside Potential
Professor Kang and Han, Songs colleagues who co-led the research, noted the new therapy has a huge upside potential when applied to real treatments, without arousing ethical disputes.
Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk surprised the world last February by announcing his groundbreaking exploit of cloning a human embryo and taking stem cells from it.
The technology is expected to lead to breakthrough treatments for many hard-to-cure diseases, for instance, by creating replacement organs and tissues.
At the same time, however, the feat also fueled an ethical debate that spans science, politics and religion, especially regarding the possibility of reproductive human cloning.
In comparison, Kang said stem cells originating from the blood of umbilical cords would not raise such problems since that blood is routinely discarded after the birth of a baby.
``There have been many controversial debates on embryonic stem cells and also such stem cells are not practical due to their property of possibly causing teratoma (cancer of cells), he explained.
Kang added that since cord blood stem cells are later than embryonic stem cells, they have little chance of causing the fatal teratoma.
``Embryonic stem cells are omni-potent in that they can divide into any thing even including a tumor cell. But cord blood stem cells are developed enough not to cause such troubles while retaining as powerful a differentiation capacity at the same time, he claimed.
Another upside of cord blood stem cells is that they can adapt to the injected bodies without triggering a big negative inner reaction, which are common in other transplantations, according to Han, Ph.D, of the SCB.
``We dont need a strict match between cord blood stem cell type and the immune system of a patient because the latter accepts the former pretty well thanks to its immaturity, Han said.
In other transplantation operations, just a slight mismatch based on the human leukocyte antigen test would cause a catastrophic result due to immune systems resistance.
The SCB currently retains blood from about 45,000 umbilical cords and they are enough to cover all Koreans, amply demonstrating the immeasurable potential of the new therapy.
Looks like another blow to the embryonic stem cell crowd.
Interesting that the umbilical stem cells, which can be harvested without harming the child, appear to be more useful than embryonic stem cells, which reqire the destruction of the embryo.
Since the whole debate over the use of embryonic stem cells is a proxy debate over abortion, I expect this news will not get major play in the MSM.
Stem cell issue aside, this is an incredible breakthrough if it pans out.
It only counts if it comes from the aborted baby.
Dear Judge Greer,
What a bunch of quacks! Everyone knows that a patient paralyzed for so long has zero chance of recovery! Her spinal cord was MUSH, gone. Just look at the scans. This treatment does not fit the standard protocol for patient care! The prognosis of permanent paralysis is shown by the preponderance of evidence...and 7 of my colleagues concur...sarcasm
I agree, can this be used for parkinson's, alzheimers, brain injuries from strokes.
It may be reported, but will likely be followed up immediately with a report on the 'exciting possibilities' of embryonic stem cell research.
Or they'll report it merely as "stem cell research" in general and not mention the different kinds.
Do you guys notice Korea is producing far beyond its size.. whether its medicine, manufacturing or tech companies?
Did this (giggle) breakthrough happen (he he) in South Korea or (mphfff) North (snicker)Korea (Who hoo hoo hoo hahahahaaaa!)
I hadn't noticed.
I noticed Israel had a similar breakthrough (with true adult stem) the other day.
Israel is a great power in moving our world forward scientifically. Especially in medical advances. Far beyond what you would expect from a small nation.
Thank you for posting this. Doctors Song, Han, and Kan are to be congratulated for this achievment. What must it be like to be paralyzed for 19 years and then be able to walk? It is almost like something you read about in the Bible.
Give it a rest. The cliche is becoming tired.
Is this the same story you pinged me to back in December?
Don't let facts get in their way. They're working on important research! ;-)