Adult Stem Cell Research Shows Good Long-Term Results, Study Says

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Adult Stem Cell Research Shows Good Long-Term Results, Study Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 19, 2005

Seattle, WA ( — Clinical trials of treatments of patients using adult stem cells shows positive results, but doctors have not known whether patients will continue showing progress long-term. A new study of blood cancer patients who had stem cell transplants are nearly as healthy as their peers 10 years later.

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Center examined 137 patients a decade after their procedures.

Reporting their results in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers say they were "largely indistinguishable" from the general population.

The finding is important because more than 45,000 receive the adult stem cell transplants each year. No one has benefited from embryonic stem cells, which have caused tumors, convulsions, and patients to reject the cells when inserted.

This study looked at patients who had received haematopoietic cell transplants (HCTs) to replace diseased blood-forming cells produced in the bone marrow, according to the BBC.

Dr. Karen Syrjala, who led the study, said, "Ten years after HCT, the 137 survivors were indistinguishable from case-matched controls in many areas of health and psychosocial functioning."

The researchers also found that the 10 percent of transplant recipients who suffered relapse were in remission by the time of the study.

"The fact that patients can relapse and still have healthy, full lives 10 years later and look like everyone else who has gone through a transplant without relapse is really good news," Syrjala said.

All of the patients received the adult stem cell transplants between March 1987 and March 1990.

The transplant group and the control group had similar rates of hospitalization and outpatient medical visits. They also had similar rates and conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and hypothyroidism.

The transplant patients did have a higher incidence of muscular and skeletal problems and were more likely to use antidepressant or anxiety medications.