Stem Cell Research

Encouraging News on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Treatment

|

You don't see me, now you do

The Lancet is publishing a preliminary report on treatments using retinal cells that have been transformed from embryonic stem cells. Although the treatments are being assessed for safety not efficacy, the two patients treated for macular degeneration are reporting improvements in their sight. The injected cells attached with the patients' retinas and have shown no signs of producing tumors or transplant rejection after four months. Some of the researchers work for and the study was funded by the biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology. The study explains the potential advantages of retinal cells derived from embryonic stem cell lines:

Although the transplantation of intact sheets and suspensions of primary RPE [retinal pigment epithelium] cells has been previously attempted, RPE derived from adult and paediatric donors are restricted in both their capacity to proliferate and their ability to differentiate in vitro. Clinically, sheets of adult RPE engrafted into the subretinal space of patients with dry age-related macular degeneration have failed to improve visual function. Although RPE derived from prenatal and postnatal tissue has been successfully dissociated and induced to grow in vitro, such sources are extremely limited and variable with regard to quality and expansion capacity. By contrast with adult and fetal tissue, a central feature of hESCs is that they have the capacity to proliferate indefinitely, providing a virtually unlimited source of youthful cells as starting material. Another crucial advantage is that the stage of in-vitro differentiation can be controlled to maximise survival and functionality.

The study concludes:

The ultimate therapeutic goal will be to treat patients earlier in the disease processes, potentially increasing the likelihood of photoreceptor and central visual rescue.

Go here [PDF] to read the study. 

Addendum from the Washington Post

In interviews with The Washington Post weeks before the results were made public, both patients said they were thrilled.

"It's a great gift, really," said the Los Angeles woman, who asked not to be named to protect her privacy. "I'm ecstatic. It's a big surprise." …

Within about six weeks of getting the cells, the Los Angeles graphic artist noticed something.

"I just woke up one morning and looked through one eye and the other and the difference was pretty dramatic," she said. "I have an armoire across my room and it has a lot of carved detail on it. I looked at it with the eye they operated on and could see all that detail. I just wanted to look at everything. It's sort of like having new eyes."

Since then, her vision has improved, enabling her to read more characters on an eye chart, thread a needle and see colors, she said.

"There's more sharpness and contrast. I recognize people better. I see their faces better," she said.

… since the procedure, she's regained enough vision to start biking again. 

Whole Post article here

NEXT: Breitbart: "Newt Gingrich is the Tea Party by Proxy"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The question now becomes will the patients accept their superhuman capabilities and their responsibility to use their abilities to fight crime and protect America?

  2. Hey, anyone want to talk about fetuses?

  3. I am glad that the moral questions regarding embryonic stem cells have been settled. All that is left now is determine how to harvest the “tissue” so that we can gain the most benefit from it.

    Ron, you are leading mankind to a better future. Sure, some will compare you to the eugenicists but we can’t allow silly things like morality get in the way of human progress!!!

  4. I do!

    EASY SWEET ‘N’ SOUR FETUSES
    3 lbs. fetuses
    3 eggs
    1/2-3/4 c. Italian flavored bread crumbs
    1 (14 oz.) jar Marinara sauce
    2 (16 oz.) cans whole berry cranberry sauce

    1. Mix fetuses, eggs and enough bread crumbs to hold mixture together.

    2. Using low heat, mix sauces in a Dutch oven or large pot.

    3. Drop fetuses into sauce, making sure each fetus is covered with sauce. (Gently so that fetuses keep shape).

    4. Simmer covered for 45 minutes.

    5. Flavor improves in refrigerator overnight. Good for party buffet.

    1. Are boneless skinless ones okay?

  5. very cool!

    if only the twaddlenocks who are against this line of science/medicine understood even an iota of what’s going on, instead of being blinded by their idiotic (religious) quackish beliefs.

    Type 1, our sights are being fixed on you. Inigo Montoya is gonna get out his special brand of whoop ass. Renal failure. you’re next, too. CF? we’re gonna get you, too.

    1. This is what you people were crowing about being right on the horizon 11 years ago when the issue first came up. Enough that you were calling opponents “murderers” because they were preventing all these life saving treatments from being developed.

      And here 11 years later, despite billions of dollars of private, state, and international funding for this crap, they’re still at the very early phases of doing anything with it (and this case doesn’t even require ESC, it’s just possibly safer).

      Also note that totipotent umbilical stem cells are not mentioned in this article. I wonder why?

      xoxo, VM

      1. +1,000

  6. “if only the twaddlenocks who are against this line of science/medicine understood even an iota of what’s going on, instead of being blinded by their idiotic (religious) quackish beliefs”

    Are you suggesting that the idea that human rights are magically conferred upon passage through a birth canal, or at some other arbitrary point, is any less religious or quackish? Can we develop a device to measure the human-rights particles and find out when they start to appear?

    The start of human rights is both very debatable, and yet of utmost importance. It’s hard to fault the pro-lifers for sticking to their principles; sure, people are harmed by the lack of treatments from embryonic stem cells. People are also harmed by our society’s unwillingness to cut up petty criminals and use their organs for transplants. Most people are fine with that.

    1. sure, people are harmed by the lack of treatments from embryonic stem cells

      Billions of dollars with no strings attached have been spent on ESC research in the past 11 years. It’s a dead end… and not just for the eviscerated embryos.

  7. I wonder if it were possible to graft in the genetics for UV detecting cone cells (the kind in birds’ eyes)?i.e., genetically engineering these stem cells?would be able to give humans tetrachomatic vision or if it would just come across as noise in our visual cortex. It would seem that the ethics of such engineering would be pretty good since it would be in non-somatic lines (and thus not heritable), thus avoiding the worries some have about altering humans in a fundamental way.

    Humans have a pretty limited visual range (although in common with other primates we do see yellows, which other mammals do not see because they have dichromatic vision?large yellow fruits, for instance, seem to occur only where primates would have eaten them (and dispersed the seeds). Kind of cool to wonder about what we’d see if we had receptors for other wavelengths.

  8. So let me start off by saying… Uh… Has anyone ever heard of adult stem cells? They are just as effective (if not moreso) than their embryonic counterparts. This has to be extremely sketchy from a human rights perspective. I mean do we honestly think as libertarians that we can stand for this when safe alternatives already exist? Think about it!

    Disclosure: I’m a pro-life libertarian.

  9. This is a very impressive study. Hopefully we’ll be able to move toward autologus adult stem cells for this kind of cell therapy in the future.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.