Previous stories focused on the science of treating peripheral artery disease with adult stem cells. Often overlooked are the people whose lives have been changed or even saved by adult stem cell treatments.
Helen Thomas, 80, of Hastings, Michigan is one of those people. Helen’s painful circulatory problem in her leg meant she had trouble walking, rarely left home, and was facing amputation of her leg. But her physician, Kenneth Merriman of Hastings, asked around at a medical conference and found Dr. Randall Franz, who was doing a clinical trial at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Franz injected Helen’s own adult stem cells into her leg, causing new blood vessels to grow. Helen is now up and about, back to normal.
When she was 30, Jennifer Osman was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a neurological disorder that attacks the peripheral nervous system, progressively weakening and numbing its victim.
[…]Then Jennifer signed up for an adult stem cell study run by Dr. Richard Burt, chief of the Division of Immunotherapy at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her adult stem cells were collected and she received chemotherapy to knock out the rogue immune cells attacking her nervous system. Shortly after, on April 1, 2005, Jennifer received a transplant of her own adult stem cells and her immune system, now rebooted, began to rebuild itself. The process was slow and grueling, but she has taken no medication for the disease since 2008. Today, almost five years since her transplant, she is nearly symptom-free.
A news story out yesterday exemplifies the “successes” of embryonic stem cells. The story proclaimed that scientists had “successfully used mouse embryonic stem cells to replace diseased retinal cells and restore sight in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa.” Sounds pretty good? Later there is the requisite hyperbole about treatments, that “Once the complication issues are addressed” and a list of retinal diseases that will be treated with embryonic stem cells.
In a paper published February 15, 2010, Oregon scientists showed that they could use bone marrow-derived adult stem cells to treat a rat model of retinitis pigmentosa. Visual function was significantly preserved in this study. An added benefit was that the cells could be easily grown in culture and administered intravenously; once injected, they traveled to the retina where they exerted their protective effect. The study highlights the possibility of using a patient’s own adult stem cells for treatment of retinitis, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.
A study by Canadian and Japanese researchers used human retinal stem cells that had been modified to increase their differentiation potential. When injected into the eyes of mice, the adult stem cells survived and differentiated into photoreceptors. Injected into a mutant mouse strain that lacks functional photoreceptors, the adult stem cells significantly improved visual function. The study was published online in the journal Stem Cells December 11, 2009.
Something to think about when the topic of embryonic stem cells comes up.