Physicians, patients back to bill to promote adult stem-cell research


Doctors and patients, who have participated in medical treatments derived from adult stem cells, have expressed support for the Patients First Act of 2007 — new federal legislation that will promote such research, reported Cybercast News Service.

David Prentice, a senior fellow with the Center for Human Life and Bioethics, told a Washington press conference last week about the benefits of adult stem cells.

He noted that over the last few years, scientists have learned that virtually every tissue of the adult body has adult stem cells. They can be gathered from bone marrow, amniotic fluid, the placenta, testicular tissue, cord blood and nasal tissue. Furthermore, they are very flexible when used to treat a number of diseases or injuries, he said.

"After a heart attack, some of the heart tissue is damaged or dead," Prentice stated. "We can now inject these adult-type stem cells into the damaged part of the heart and stimulate repair of that tissue."

That treatment is what saved Doug Rice of Spokane, Wash., who said during the news conference that he suffered from congenital heart failure and diabetes, and had found no suitable match for a transplant.

Amit Patel, a physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, described the treatment as "putting a new engine in an old car, only better. Cells are small bio-reactors. They sense the environment that they're injected into, and they release growth factors and attract other cells and other substances to help the heart work better.”

Patel said 1,800 patients have been treated in trials around the world to date. He said the procedure "minimizes risk and maximizes safety by taking people's own cells and putting them into the heart." He cautioned, however, that adult stem cell treatment is "not a miracle cure" and does involve some risk.

Mr. Rice, who underwent the treatment said, "The sad thing about this is that 750,000 people a year die of heart disease in the United States, and there are procedures out there that can solve the problem." "I see millions of dollars being spent on research that, in my opinion, is a waste of money, on the embryonic stem cells, and it just is very frustrating."

Unlike stem cell research and treatments using adult cells, research using cells obtained from human embryos is controversial because the embryos are destroyed in the process. Proponents say embryonic cells offer greater potential for future cures.

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