When the media discusses "stem cells", which ones are they referring to--embryonic or adult? I suppose the layman could figure it out, maybe? What kind of stem cells can be harvested from and used on the same patient? If you said "adult" you are correct. If you didn't know, that's just what the media and embryonic stem cell research advocates want.
In a recent adult stem cell treatment program, the first patient needed more insulin. Another patient relapsed. But 13 Type-1 diabetics in Brazil no longer need insulin. Some haven't had to take insulin shots for three years now. But others...claimed that stem cell transplantation is hazardous and should not have included children. It's hazardous all right--to the advocates of embryonic stem cell treatments, which haven't been successfully used in any therapy yet.
But hey, don't freak out! They weren't using embryonic stem cells! They were using the patients' own stem cells (of the adult variety). The only thing that was slightly dangerous was the fact that chemotherapy treatment was administered first so that the newly introduced stem cells would not be attacked, as are insulin-producing cells in people who are diabetic.
“It’s the threshold of a very promising time for the field,” said Dr. Jay Skyler of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami.
Skyler wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study, saying the results are likely to stimulate research that may lead to methods of preventing or reversing type 1 diabetes.
“These are exciting results. They look impressive,” said Dr. Gordon Weir of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
But it's clear that it's too early to decide whether a cure has been found. Additionally, the treatment would only work on those whose diabetes is in an early stage, where not all insulin-producing cells in the patient's body have been destroyed.
Interestingly, though, the therapy has been used to reverse other auto-immune disorders, including the restoration of sight to one individual.
Why didn't the United States want in on this potential break-through therapy? I'll hazard a guess or two. Not wanting to go against the tide of man-made global warm--er--embryonic stem cell research advocacy? Realizing that there is little research money in adult stem cell research?
At least medical researchers in other countries are still allowed to think for themselves.