"Adult Stem Cell Research
Far Ahead of Embryonic"
Part Four of Four
By David Prentice
August 2, 2010
This first appeared on Dr.
Prentice's blog at
The above headline is
straight from Malcolm Ritter and the Associated Press, a story
out today that highlights some of the real successes and promise
of adult stem cells, as opposed to the wishful thinking and hype
of embryonic stem cells [see
lead story is Dr. Thomas Einhorn at Boston University Medical
Center, injecting a patient's bone marrow into a broken ankle
that wouldn't heal; four months later the ankle was healed.
Einhorn, chairman of
orthopedic surgery at Boston University Medical Center, credits
"adult" stem cells in the marrow injection. He tried it because
of published research from France.
As the AP piece notes,
it's an example of many innovative therapies doctors are
studying with adult stem cells; stem cells taken from body
tissue and umbilical cord blood, not embryos. As the AP story
For all the emotional
debate that began about a decade ago on allowing the use of
embryonic stem cells, it's adult stem cells that are in human
An extensive review of
stem cell projects and interviews with two dozen experts reveal
a wide range of potential treatments.
A few of the examples
highlighted include multiple sclerosis, heart damage, juvenile
diabetes, and blindness from chemical burns.
Apart from these efforts,
transplants of adult stem cells have become a standard
lifesaving therapy for perhaps hundreds of thousands of people
with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases.
Many of the treatments,
including new ones being tested in clinical trials now, rely on
the idea that stem cells can form other cell types. That seems
to be the case for Einhorn's ankle-repair technique, with the
adult stem cells forming new bone and blood vessels. But adult
stem cells also seem to have abilities to stimulate tissue
repair or suppress the immune system. According to Dr. Rocky
Tuan of the University of Pittsburgh:
"That gives adult stem
cells really a very interesting and potent quality that
embryonic stem cells don't have."
That stimulation of tissue
repair may be the mechanism for the published adult stem cell
success treating spinal cord injury, including long-term injury
up to 15 years (see
To learn more and see some
examples of adult stem cell success stories, watch the three
videos at Stem Cell Research Facts (see