The Vatican issued a communique on Tuesday announcing a joint initiative with an international bio-pharmaceutical company to raise awareness and expand research of adult stem cell therapy.
Neostem Inc. and the Pontifical Council for Culture will combine the efforts of their respective foundations, the Stem for Life Foundation and STOQ (Science Theology and the Ontological Quest) Foundation, to advance research and explore the use of adult stem cells in regenerative medicine.
Fr. Tomasz Trafny from the Council for Culture remarked in a May 19 press release, "Considering the potential implication of scientific investigation, medical applicability and the cultural impact of research on adult stem cells, we view the collaboration with NeoStem as a critical effort."
"Through educational initiatives with NeoStem and sponsorship of scientific research programs involving cutting edge adult stem cell science which does not hurt human life, we come one step closer to a breakthrough that can relieve needless human suffering,” he said.
The pontifical council is particularly excited about the company's VSEL technology, which utilizes adult stem cells that behave like embryonic stem cells in their ability to regenerate and repair. Fr. Trafny said the technology could receive a significant financial investment from the Church.
"For over 40 years, physicians have been using adult stem cells to treat various blood cancers, but only recently has the promise of using adult stem cells to treat a significant number of other diseases begun to be realized. There are tremendous clinical and economic advantages to autologous stem cell transplantation (receiving your own stem cells) as there are no issues with immune rejection. Engraftment with your own stem cells is faster, safer and much less costly than receiving someone else's stem cells (allogeneic)," said Dr. Robin L. Smith, Chairman and CEO of NeoStem.
The initiative will also explore the cultural relevance and theological impact of adult stem cell therapy.
“As part of the collaboration, NeoStem and the pontifical council will make efforts to develop educational programs, publications and academic courses with an interdisciplinary approach for theological and philosophical faculties, including those of bioethics, around the world,” said Tuesday's Vatican communique.
“One of the initiatives,” the statement added, “will be a three-day international conference at the Vatican on adult stem cell research, including VSEL technology (which uses very small embryonic-like stem cells), that will focus on medical research presentations and theological and philosophical considerations and implications of scientific achievements.”