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Monday, January 08, 2007

Stem cells without embryo destruction?

A news report suggests that cells derived from amniotic fluid (which surrounds an embryo or fetus, but is not part of it) may have as much potential as embryonic stem cells.

If this holds up (and the report indicates that this is a pretty thorough study) it might mean that the destruction of human embryos for the production of embryonic stem cells is not necessary.

This report includes some experimental use of the technique in producing tissue for replacement in patients, apparently with positive results. One scientist (I'm not clear as to whether he was part of the research team, or commenting on the work) said that he thought research on embryonic stem cells should be continued.

I haven't seen the original scientific report of this research.

Note added Jan 11, 2007: I have posted on the question of the success of research in the use of human embryonic stem cells.


Weekend Fisher said...

I read someone who blogs fairly regularly on stem cell issues. He claims that there are currently no successful treatments developed from embryonic stem cells, but a good few successful treatments developed from other stem cells, whether from umbilical cord blod, amniotic fluid, even some adult stem cells have provided successful treatments. At one point he had a link documenting all the currently successful stem cell treatments, and not one of the successful treatments involved stem cells taken from embryos.

I've filed away his posts in my "to be verified" mental stack, but if you have time to dig through his source material, pop over to Apologia Christi on my blogroll. He doesn't have "stem cell" on his tags but he does have a search box.

Martin LaBar said...

According to the Wikipedia article "Embryonic stem cell," your friend is correct, and I have not heard of a proven successful treatment with embryonic stem cells (and I think I would have heard of this, and you probably would have, too!).

However, adult stem cells have been known of, and experimented on, for a few decades, whereas embryonic stem cells, according to this article, were only discovered in 1998. It would be remarkable for even a drug discovered that recently to have been approved, and in wide use. It would be basically impossible for a cell type to have been used for treatment in that time, since studying how it works, how to keep the host from rejecting it, etc., would be considerably more complex than investigating a new drug.

Thanks for your comment.