Adult Stem Cells Restoring Sight


Before and After Stem Cell Treatment/Photo AP (Via)

This is fantastic news:

Dozens of people who were blinded or otherwise suffered severe eye damage when they were splashed with caustic chemicals had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells — a stunning success for the burgeoning cell-therapy field, Italian researchers reported Wednesday.

The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.

“This is a roaring success,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab of the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the study — the longest and largest of its kind.

Four years ago, the score was Adult Stem Cells 72, Embryonic Stem Cells 0. Successful therapeutic applications from embryonic cells are still at 0.

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Charles

    Yeah, but ESCR has one victory – stealing $6 billion from California taxpayers.

  • Cromagnum

    The Lord helps those who help themselves.

    Science works best when it works within the framework of God’s love.

  • http://causa-nostrae-laetitiae.blogspot.com Leticia Velasquez

    Amazing news, spread the word, adult stem cells are working miracles.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com Foxfier

    Goodness, you don’t read Mr. Smith’s blog? It’s here on first things– he’s up on all the ASC news! Depressing a lot of the rest of the time, but informative.

    [If I read everyone I want to read, every single day, I'd never have time to write anything. Some might say that is a good thing! :-) Sadly, I don't always get to check in on everyone whose work I admire -admin]

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    How wonderful. My father was blind for most of his adult life. If he had been alive today they probably could have restored part of his sight with some of the laser technology and possibly even this that we have today. God bless these noble men and women of science that really help bring God’s blessings on earth.

  • Jeff

    The rabid advocates of embryonic stem cell use will probably be saddened by this development.

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  • Rosemary A.

    If you read the comments below the article the Anchoress linked to, you will see that people are totally “blind” to the difference between embryonic stem cell therapy and adult stem cell therapy. (Note that the headline above the article only refers to “Stem Cell Therapy”). And most people are not aware that Christians have supported, and have been the vanguard for ADULT stem cell therapy. The media paints us as anti-progress and hate-filled cretins.

    [This has been one of the purposeful mis-characterizations of the media and the left. They know that most people DON'T make even obvious distinctions, they glance at headlines and think they know everything. They tried to paint Bush and the whole of religion as being against science, and do not seem to realize that without the church, science would not have the credibility or reach that it has gained. -admin ]

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle Miller

    That’s because they see in others that which exists in themselves. The media is deranged and utterly brain dead when it comes to anything that impinges on their preconceived prejudices!

  • Doc

    While I was attending a pro-life meeting I saw a wonderful presentation on the differences between the various types of stem cells presented by another parish pro-life leader who worked on stem cells at Georgia Tech. The corporate media is truly the enemy on this topic. They have the ability to cut through the fog and educate the public with facts. Instead they distort, lie, and misinform. The agenda trumps truth.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Elizabeth Scalia: Successful therapeutic applications from embryonic cells are still at 0.

    Embryonic stem cell research is still in its infancy, and in the U.S., an important center of science, there have been significant legal hurdles. Adult stem cells will continue to yield therapeutic benefits, because when the cells are derived from the patient, they avoid the problem of rejection.

    Jeff: The rabid advocates of embryonic stem cell use will probably be saddened by this development.

    De Luca and Pellegrini have published on embryonic stem cells, and consider this “a time of great enthusiasm for the prospects of cell therapy with somatic derivatives of human embryonic stem cells.

    Rosemary A: (Note that the headline above the article only refers to “Stem Cell Therapy”).

    The article itself refers to using the patient’s own stem cells. Unfortunately, that means it requires one good eye, so it’s not a cure-all.

    [Embryonic stem cell research may still be in its "infancy" but it is an "infancy" of several decades duration. The issue is not merely one of rejection. If you go into my archives you'll find links to articles from the NEJM and elsewhere detailing why research using some fetal and embryonic stem cells was not just postponed but canceled after some nightmarish effects were suffered by patients. And it does no good to argue that a lack of public funding is impeding advancement in this area; if there was real promise, you'd see venture capitalists sinking their fortunes into it. Don't be sad about it, though. Perhaps we're not meant to mess around with life in its very purest and most innocent (and therefore, perhaps more powerful) form. -admin]

  • CV

    Follow the money, Zachriel.

    If there were significant advances in embryonic stem cell research, investors would be scrambling to make money off of it. That’s just not happening.

    Remember 2004, when the (flat broke!) state of California passed Proposition 71, allocating $3 billion to get around Bush’s restrictive laws against embryonic stem cell research?

    Last Nov., California Catholic Daily reported on where things stand today:

    “…Five years after the passage of Proposition 71, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine is awarding grants for stem-cell research targeted at clinical applications. In what both the San Diego Union-Tribune and Knight Science Journalism Tracker are calling an “irony,” ten of the 14 grants are going to researchers working with adult stem-cells.

    On Thursday, October 29, the New York Times reported: “In a tacit acknowledgment that the promise of human embryonic stem cells is still far in the future, California’s stem cell research program on Wednesday awarded grants intended to develop therapies using mainly other, less controversial cells.

    “The $230 million in grants awarded Wednesday to California universities and companies represent a big step toward moving stem cells from basic research toward application in treating diseases like cancer and AIDS. Grant recipients are supposed to have a therapy ready for initial human testing in four years.

    “But only four of the 14 projects involve embryonic stem cells. The others will use so-called adult stem cells or conventional drugs intended to kill cancer stem cells, which are thought to give rise to tumors.

    “The grants thus represent a departure from the program’s original mission. California voters approved the 10-year, $3 billion effort in 2004 largely to get around restrictions on embryonic stem cell research imposed by the administration of President George W. Bush.”

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    The Anchoress: Embryonic stem cell research may still be in its “infancy” but it is an “infancy” of several decades duration.

    If by several decades, you mean 12 years. Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated and cultured in 1998.

    Thomson et al., Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Derived from Human Blastocysts, Science 1998.

    The Anchoress: If you go into my archives you’ll find links to articles from the NEJM and elsewhere detailing why research using some fetal and embryonic stem cells was not just postponed but canceled after some nightmarish effects were suffered by patients.

    The only reference found was on the use of embryonic dopamine cells, not stem cells. (Here’s your missing New York Times article.)

    CV: If there were significant advances in embryonic stem cell research, investors would be scrambling to make money off of it.

    That is incorrect. Long time horizons make it out of reach for the vast majority of private capital.

    The Anchoress: Perhaps we’re not meant to mess around with life in its very purest and most innocent (and therefore, perhaps more powerful) form.

    The technology will undoubtedly have unintended consequences, but that doesn’t change the consensus of experts in the field, who consider embryonic stem cells promising for the development of new therapies.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com Foxfier

    Zachriel-
    you didn’t read the (admittedly poor written) article all the way through. Some of the folks were blind in both eyes (Secondhand Smoke’s blog has a link to a better write up, in that respect) — the stem cells were taken from the limbus, so as long as a bit of that junction between the cornea and the rest of the eye is still there, this very treatment has better than a 75% success rate.

    We REALLY need to get the FDA to stop treating therapy with one’s own stem cells as a new medication.

    Oh, and you’re wrong about embryonic stem cells. They were isolated back in the ’80s. You’re thinking HUMAN embryonic stem cells, the lines for which were cultured in ’98.
    stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics1.asp

  • Foxfier

    Zachriel-
    you didn’t read the (admittedly poor written) article all the way through. Some of the folks were blind in both eyes (Secondhand Smoke’s blog has a link to a better write up, in that respect) — the stem cells were taken from the limbus, so as long as a bit of that junction between the cornea and the rest of the eye is still there, this very treatment has better than a 75% success rate.

    We REALLY need to get the FDA to stop treating therapy with one’s own stem cells as a new medication.

    Oh, and you’re wrong about embryonic stem cells. They were isolated back in the ’80s. You’re thinking HUMAN embryonic stem cells, the lines for which were cultured in ’98.
    stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics1.asp

    (*sigh* Issues posting, again)

  • dry valleys

    Related (?): The mother of modern medicine

    [Fascinating, DV -admin]

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  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Foxfier: the stem cells were taken from the limbus, so as long as a bit of that junction between the cornea and the rest of the eye is still there

    You are certainly correct. Both eyes may be ‘bad’ as long as some limbal stem cells can be cultured. Here’s the actual article for reference.

    Rama, et al., Limbal Stem-Cell Therapy and Long-Term Corneal Regeneration, New England Journal of Medicine 2010.

    Zachriel: Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated and cultured in 1998.

    Foxfier: You’re thinking HUMAN embryonic stem cells, the lines for which were cultured in ’98.

    Apparently.

  • http://jmbalconi.stblogs.com JBalconi

    This made me think immediately of the schoolgirls in Asia who were blinded by acid attacks. I hope that someday such a procedure can restore their sight.

  • Mary

    If by several decades, you mean 12 years. Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated and cultured in 1998.

    Adult stem cells were first isolated even later — remember when everyone told us that there was no choice, stem cells were embryonic ones?

    If two children go to a school, and the one that started later flashes ahead of the one that started first, the obvious reaction is that the later starting one has more promise.

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  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Mary: Adult stem cells were first isolated even later — remember when everyone told us that there was no choice, stem cells were embryonic ones?

    Adult stem cells have been used in medicine for half a century. There are several levels of potency in stem cells. You may be thinking of induced pluripotent adult stem cells, which is a much more recent development. There are still technical challenges with these cells which limit their medical usefulness. All of this is important to understanding how cells differentiate.

    Keep in mind that blastocysts are made and destroyed regularly in fertility clinics. Parents often choose to donate their excess embryos. This will continue—unless you plan to shut these clinics down.

  • Foxfier

    Zachriel-
    The Anchoress didn’t say “human embryonic.” She simply said “Embryonic stem cell research”. Sorry for assuming you were not trying to shift the ground for a cheap debate point.

    The first bone marrow transplant to a human was ’68. Were you thinking of another, older therapy?

    Oh, and Catholics do object to destruction of very small humans for reproductive purposes; IVF is against human dignity. I believe the Anchoress has written on it before.

  • Jeff

    Replace “adult stem cells” with “bicycles” and “embryonic stem cells” with “steel” and you’ll realize how absurd your argument against the clinical usefulness of embryonic stem cells sounds.

    It’s not a waste just because nobody’s figured out how to build a truck yet. We’re still working on the wheels.

  • Foxfier

    Amazingly, steel was used before trucks.

    Also a bit more morality-neutral than small humans.

    Oh! I know! Let’s “culture” these human embryos– are they still being called “fertilized eggs” by the supposedly pro-science folks?– to an equivalent stage of, oh, my daughter, and use them to test medications! We could learn oh so very much, and since they never entered the Holy Womb of Privacy and aren’t “wanted” children, it’ll be fine and we’ll learn SO much…..

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Foxfier: The Anchoress didn’t say “human embryonic.” She simply said “Embryonic stem cell research”.

    Which is why we made the clarification. You can’t clinically test therapies requiring human embryonic stem cells until they are available, of course.

    Foxfier: Oh, and Catholics do object to destruction of very small humans for reproductive purposes; IVF is against human dignity.

    The vast majority of researchers consider embryonic stem cell research to be a promising avenue of research—regardless of the moral implications.


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