Tag Archives: stem cell

The Missing Word: Why we don’t have stem cell cures.

If you have been following stem cell research at all, and especially if you or a loved one has an incurable disease that could only be cured by a stem cell-based treatment, there’s one question that has burned in your mind and kept you up at 3 a.m. more than once. And it’s this.

After so many years of heavily funded ADULT stem cell research, why don’t we have stem cell cures?

The answer is both simple and heartbreaking. The wrong kind of research has been funded. If adult stem cell research was ever going to get much of anywhere, then the last stem cell treatment approved by the FDA would not have been in 1956. Yep, you read that right. NINETEEN FIFTY-SIX.As in fifty-nine years ago.

Funding for embryonic stem cells has been blocked not once, but FOUR SEPARATE TIMES. The federal funding block would still exist if Shirley vs. Sibelius hadn’t narrowly been struck down by the Supreme Court two years ago. The only type of stem cell therapy that holds any real hope of helping suffering human beings has been defunded, demonized, villified, and found guilty by association.That’s why Ocata’s revolutionary stem cell research is going to Japan, where they really don’t care about the supposed “morality” of using HESC’s. (The irony, of course, is that Ocata’s stem cell technology doesn’t destroy embryos at all. The research itself is guilty by association.) No, they care more about cures, which is apparently too much to ask in the U.S. (and apparently the entire Western world, seeing as how Nouse is a British source.) How can this be? This article pretty much sums it up. Business plus politics equals science: The underworld of regenerative medicine

But there is a GLARINGLY MISSING word in that headline. One word. How do we know? This.

“The company‚Äôs focus is regenerative medical treatments using human embryonic stem cells (ES). There is widespread controversy about their use, many of you will know and have a different opinion regarding how and when, if ever their use is justified. The very creation of therapeutic stem cells is central to the debate as it involves destruction of embryos. The debate is complex and multisided. Some argue that a life is created therefore termination is unjust. Whereas others feel that a life is formed at a later developmental stage and therapeutic value of these early pluripotent cells is too great not to utilize.”

Can we talk here? Can we be honest? There is ONLY ONE REASON why anyone would think there is “widespread controversy” about the use of hesc’s, whether their use is “justified”, etc etc etc. The debate is not “complex and multisided.” It exists for only one reason. And that’s the missing word.

RELIGION.

No, that word doesn’t sum up the problem by any means. But notice that I said religion, not God. Religious fundamentalists have made this argument since 1998 because they’ve convinced themselves that they’re speaking for what God wants, and they have blocked stem cell treatments that could have cured millions of incurable diseases ever since. That’s the only reason. Never mind that Ocata’s treatments don’t even destroy a single embryo but get lumped in with those who do.

So why can’t this stupid article just be honest? Don’t use weasel words like “some.” Say “people who claim they are speaking for God.” And say “religion.” Just be straight with us. But that this would be too honest, and we can’t have that.

Nobody knows what God wants. I don’t know, and the fundies certainly don’t know. But one thing I do know is that millions of people are suffering and dying from diseases that have no treatment and no cure. Embryonic stem cells could provide that cure. If you’re reading this and you’re an atheist, this one is a pretty easy sell. But if you’re a person of faith– as I am, which may surprise you if you’d read this far– then think about this. Does your God want millions of people to suffer and die unnecessarily? Because if you can say “yes” to that… then that doesn’t sound like a loving God to me. It sounds more like a god that people create from the worst parts of themselves. And think, really think, about whether or not this would be a god worth worshipping– or if people are just trying to find a way to justify their own prejudices and fears by stuffing them into the missing word.

A Brief Take on Stem Cell Clinics…

So… I’m working on an article about Right to Try laws from a patient’s point of view, and one of the best sources for research– on that subject or any other related to stem cells– is Paul Knoepfler’s blog. I check it pretty much every day. Today, there was an article about stem cell clinics. I’ll let you-all go over there and check it out, but I posted a comment that I kind of like. I’ve often heard the advice that if you write out a long comment on someone else’s blog, you really should publish it somewhere else, too. (For one thing, I can’t be absolutely sure it’ll make it through moderation.) So here it is– my take on stem cell clinics (for the day, anyway.)

BTW, I’m not a fan of them. At all. Sorry, I know some people have had good experiences, but I’m just Not. A. Fan. So that might come through a tad…
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The UC-Davis Stem Cell Ethics Conference, Part One

So… I’ve been promising to post material from the Feb 12th conference for a while, and here it FINALLY is! I’ve been moving to a new house… and I didn’t have net access for weeks and weeks… and the dog ate my homework… and, okay; enough already. I think I’ve been trying to fit these notes into literary form, because they will become an important aspect of the book. But it’s more important to get them out there for people to read. So… keeping in mind that these are fairly rough… here’s Part One!

The scene opens on February 11, at Tim Caulfield’s introductory talk…
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The State of Alzheimer’s Research

So I just finished Dancing With a Stranger, by Meryl Comer, and… it’s not exactly the feel-good book of the year. She is a caregiver for BOTH her husband AND her mother, and both have Alzheimer’s. Oh, yeah– and she has both of the genes associated with the disease. Just the fact that some people are able to keep going in the face of unbearable problems is hard to believe.

I’ve been looking into the current state of stem cell based AD trials, and here’s what I’ve found out. As of December 2014, there’s not a lot going on at the clinical level right now. There’s one trial in South Korea using cord blood-derived cells, but even though they completed the preliminary outpoint in 2012, there does not seem to have been any information released on what the outcome was, which isn’t very encouraging to me. Dr. Lanza’s article about preliminary interim results in Ocata’s RPE trials for AMD was released months into the study. So, for it to be fully two years after the completion of Phase I, and still nothing… not that great. Another study in China is now recruiting, but I’m not sure how much better that one looks.

There are a few meds in development that look promising… but the problem with drug trials is that there’s a long history of meds looking great for AD until they’re actually released, and then they turn out to not accomplish much of anything over the long term. I’ve seen a couple of drugs really help people in the early stages, but only for about one year (Aricept and Namenda are good examples.)

The most promising thing I’ve seen, IMHO, is Neuralstem’s animal studies on Alzheimer’s. They released results in October, and the conclusion is that their cells “rescued spatial learning and memory deficits in mice with an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.” The problem obviously is that we’re only talking about mice at this point, and there is, unfortunately, a history of stem cell treatments looking wonderful in mice and then not translating to humans. Still, if I had more money, I would definitely invest in this company!

So that’s pretty much the AD story for now!

Incredible News About Stargardt’s Cure

So, I was posting a summary for my book on the NaNoWriMo Facebook page, thinking that it sounded over the top… stem cell-based cures for horrible incurable diseases within 2-10 years, that kind of thing… well….

There’s no link for this, because it is insider info from shareholders who went to Ocata’s quarterly meeting in Boston, which was not open to the public. (There is a LOT about Ocata in the book– they’re the biotech company that just changed their name from Advanced Cell Technology.) Ocata is the company developing the first cure (or even treatment!) for age-related macular degeneration, a disease that slowly causes blindness for 30 million people in the U.S. and Europe alone. The interim published results for the clinical trials have looked great, but as far as when this treatment might actually come to market… it’s everybody’s guess.

But in the quarterly meeting… several attendees have all said the same thing. The drug already has orphan treatment approval for a genetic disease caused Stargardt’s, which has exactly the same effects and eventually causes blindness. But it attacks much younger people, including children as young as six. (Yep, six years old.) AND… the CEO of Ocata said that the drug will be available in the U.K. in 2018. We don’t have absolute confirmation of this yet. But it’s apparently what was officially said at that meeting.

One of the lines of thought on the forums is that the date might be earlier for AMD approval in the U.S, even quite a bit earlier if the drug is fast tracked here… we just don’t know. But this is INCREDIBLE!!!~ There has never ever been any kind of treatment for Stargardt’s before, and now there will be, and it will be STEM CELL BASED. As of now, that will be the first drug approved anywhere in the WORLD that is embryonic stem cell based.

YES! IT’S THE START OF A NEW ERA IN MEDICINE!!! And it will be in the book!
(sorry about the capslock…

About This Blog

So… this info is eventually going to go on a page of its own, but for now, I’m just going to say a few things here.

What’s this blog about?

  • Stem cell news
    Stem cell links
    Basic stem cell information
    Stem cell personal stories
    Stem cell rants.
  • Yep, there will be some rants here. If anybody DOESN’T want to read rants… well, Paul Knoefpler’s Blog is pretty non-ranty, and is written by a researcher in the hard sciences.
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