by Steven Ertelt
November 21, 2004
Houston, TX (LifeNews.com) — Some amazing developments are being reported in adult stem cell research, raising new questions about the wisdom of engaging in destructive embryonic stem cell research.
Researchers have now shown that transplanted adult stem cells can improve vision in eyes that have been damaged by retinal disease.
The scientific breakthrough is the cover story in the November issue of the journal "Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science."
“These findings hold great promise for potential treatments for people suffering from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases," Michael Young, the lead author of the study, told the press.
Young and his team tested their adult stem cell theory in mice. The research team speculated that the transplanted cells secreted a substance that saved fragile cells.
"These are the first steps toward the use of stem cells for saving existing vision and then — down the road — restoring vision that has already been lost," Young said.
The researchers are now studying whether adult stem cells can be used to improve the vision of pigs, whose eyes more closely resemble human eyes.
In another study, Texas researchers believe they’ve perfected a way to deliver cancer treatment directly to tumors. While the initial experiments have been done on mice, human trials could begin soon.
The researchers in the Texas study used adult stem cells which move like guided missiles, targeting tumor cells.
In yet another study, in Virginia, adult stem cells taken from human fat have been used to improve the functioning of damaged hearts.
“The concept of a person being able to recycle excess or unwanted fat through a procedure that would help them medically is exciting," Dr. Adam Katz of the University of Virginia Medical Center told the Daily Progress newspaper.
Katz called the University of Virginia results promising.
“It could have been that we put the cells in and found nothing of worth," Katz told the newspaper. “That’s not what happened."
Researchers took human fat stem cells from people who had had elective surgeries, such as liposuction, and injected them into the heart muscle of five mice after they had had heart attacks.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, doctors who injected a stroke victim’s brain with adult stem cells from bone marrow plan to try the treatment in other patients after some initial hopeful signs.
Dr. Hans Fernando Dohmann told Reuters news service that doctors plan to go ahead with a research project involving 15 patients who will be injected with adult stem cells.
“What excites us most is that there is biological activity (in the area affected by the stroke) … that the injection of cells led to no electric disturbances in the brain, and there was no inflammatory reaction," Dohmann told Reuters.
The initial test subject was a 54-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke in August, leaving her without the ability to talk or move the right side of her body. After doctors injected the adult stem cells, she recovered her ability to move and began to speak again.
Observers note that the tremendous progress being made in adult stem cell research indicates that embryonic stem cell research, which involves the killing of human embryos, is unnecessary.