Republican Physician Hails Another Success Involving Adult Stem Cells

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - As the Senate focuses on research involving embryonic stem cells, there's another success to report in the field of adult stem cell therapy, which does not depend on embryo destruction.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a study on Tuesday showing that 14 out of 15 juvenile diabetes patients showed significant improvement following therapy involving adult stem cells.

Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-Fla.) said the study is significant because it marks the first attempt at using stem cells of any kind to reverse the effects of Type I (juvenile) diabetes in humans.

Although the study is preliminary, it's also very promising, Weldon said. He noted that 14 of the patients remain insulin-free, and one has gone 34 months without insulin injections.

"It's very important that the public be told what this is: an adult
stem cell success, not the much-touted embryo stem cell research," Weldon said in a news release.

"The beauty of the treatment protocol used here is that the patient's own bone marrow stem cells were used, guaranteeing a perfect match. There was no controversial destruction of human embryos. Embryo stem cells form tumors and have never been shown to be safe for use in humans," Weldon added.

He also noted that the research was done by Americans working overseas. (The study was conducted in Brazil with input from several U.S. clinical researchers.) Weldon said that's because the American biomedical research community has placed an "irrational reliance on embryo stem cell research above all others."

Said Weldon, "Adult stem cell science in America is being crowded out and in some cases ignored. This bias is now denying American patients access to therapies that are much more promising. We need to focus on human treatments for today, not those with false hope for tomorrow."

Type I (juvenile) diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the body's own immune cells attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

In treating the 15 patients, researchers used the patients' own bone marrow stem cells -- the same procedure has been used successfully to treat other autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohns Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma.

See Earlier Stories:
Another 'Adult' Stem Cell Success Reported Ahead of Senate Debate (4 April 2007)
Significant Adult Stem Cell Advance Drew Modest Attention (31 Aug. 2006)

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