Month Archives: September 2009

Adult Stem Cells for ALS

by David Prentice

September 30, 2009

In the news recently was the FDA approval of a clinical trial for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Lou Gehrig’s disease) by the company NeuralStem. Actually, the recent news was release of the FDA hold on the trial; the FDA hold was placed on the trial back on 20 Feb 2009. NeuralStem uses immature, fetal neural stem cells. The hold was placed soon after news broke about an Israeli boy who developed tumors, four years after receiving fetal stem cells. Fetal stem cell “overgrowth” has been a problem before with other attempts, e.g. experiments at using fetal neural cells in Parkinson patients (published ref from 2001, also see refs from 2003 and 1996.)

All of the recent NeuralStem stories talk about this fetal stem cell experiment being the “first” stem cell trial for ALS. Apparently no one is aware of the adult stem cell literature, only fetal and embryonic.

Italian scientists Mazzini and Fagioli have already done several clinical trials using adult mesenchymal stem cells, with promising results. Their published results include success with adult stem cells in pre-clinical animal studies, and clinical trial results published in 2006, in 2008, and in 2009, as well as a recent review paper on the subject. The real hope for patients comes from adult stem cells.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 30, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest.

Adult Stem Cells Get Hip

by David Prentice

September 29, 2009

Doctors in Southampton, England have successfully used adult stem cells to repair hip bones, allowing patients to avoid hip replacement surgery. After removing dead tissue in the hip, the cavity is filled with bits of ground up bone and the patient’s own adult stem cells. So far six patients have had the treatment with only one failure, doctors said.

Carl Millard, who had the adult stem cell procedure, said he could walk normally and without any pain. Millard’s surgeon said his bone would have collapsed without the stem cell treatment, requiring an artificial hip joint. Prof. Richard Oreffo leads the team developing the adult stem cell technique.

Adult stem cells have been used by other doctors to heal non-healing fractures and allow patients to walk again.

In The Stem Cell Vein and Other Stories

by David Prentice

September 29, 2009

Catching up with a few brief stories.

In The Stem Cell Vein

Adult stem cells from bone marrow have been used to reverse a rare genetic disease. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute used a mouse model of cystinosis, a genetic disease that can afflict children as young as six months old, causes deteriorating kidney function and inevitable kidney failure. Stephanie Cherqui, the scientist who developed the mouse model, said that adult bone marrow stem cell therapy is particularly well suited as a potential treatment for cystinosis because these cells target all types of tissues, and also reside in the bone marrow for the duration of a patient’s life.

Scientists at the Hohenstein Institute have developed a textile coating that allows adult human stem cells to colonize the surface fibers of textile implants. The implants could be used as patches in surgery and for injured tissues to hold adult stem cells in place and facilitate repair.

A heart patient who was dying has been saved by combining implantation of a mechanical heart with injection of his own adult stem cells to heal his damaged heart.

Prof. Jennifer Elisseeff, a bioengineer at Johns Hopkins, is developing biological scaffolds and directional signals that will coax the body’s own stem cells to regenerate tissues such as knee cartilage and corneas that have been damaged by trauma. In their first clinical trial, conducted in Europe, Elisseeff’s team had good results treating 15 adults who had at least a two-year history of knee cartilage injuries.

NOTE: If you read the article, you’ll note the requisite political trumpeting of Obama’s opening wide the door for federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines from destruction of human embryos. The rest of the article discusses results, including ongoing clinical trials, with adult stem cells.

The Science Vane

UCLA scientists have developed a “Lab-on-a-chip” that can perform a thousand chemical reactions at once. Details of the stamp-size, PC-controlled microchip are given in the appropriately-titled journal Lab on a Chip

Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell has converted his brain into an electronic memory. Well sort of. He carries around video equipment, cameras and audio recorders to capture his conversations, commutes, trips and experiences, then saves all the information digitally. Hope he made backups.

A British pharmacy is making a point about promiscuity and sexually-transmitted disease. Asking the question “How many people have you slept with?”, Lloydspharmacy says that the average British man or woman has slept with 2.8 million people (albeit indirectly.) Their posted calculator takes into account not only a person’s partners but also their partners’ partners, and so on.

The Political Vain

Some workers at the National Science Foundation have spent lots of on-the-job time and money surfing porn on the internet. The abuse was apparently so pervasive that it swamped the agency’s inspector general, who cut back investigating grant fraud. One offender excused the abuse with a humanitarian defense, suggesting that he frequented the porn sites to provide a living to the poor overseas women.

Politics trumped science, when four Democratic members of Congress exerted extreme pressure on the FDA to approve a medical device that FDA scientists had rejected.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 28, 2009

Here are some articles of interest.

President Washington and the “Gender Gap”

by Robert Morrison

September 26, 2009

Ive just received news that the most respected editor of the Papers of George Washington—a collection to goes to fifty volumes—has died. My alma mater, University of Virginia, announced the passing of William Wright Abbott III. He was 87.

Mr. Abbott (all the profesors at U.Va. were called mister, in deference to Mr. Jeffersons republican manners) was revered around the Grounds. The official announcement said:

Abbot was hired as the James Madison Professor of History at U.Va. in 1966, serving twice as chairman of the Corcoran Department of History. Although he retired from the University in 1992, he continued to edit individual volumes of the Washington Papers until 1998, when nearly 50 volumes were in print.

I often heard him remark that interpretations come and go, but that a properly edited set of historical papers can inspire scholars for generations to come,” said U.Va. colleague H.C. Erik Midelfort, C. Julian Bishko Professor of History Emeritus. “Bill brought to his editing task a seasoned, literate sense of what a good edition requires: skill, knowledge and tact.

I had special reason to respect Mr. Abbott: He taught me one of the most important lessons I ever learned about politics and, in the process, helped my marriage. I interviewed Bill Abbott in Charlottesville in the mid-eighties. All the talk then was of the recently discovered gender gap. Liberal journalists had noted that President Ronald Reagan was less popular among women voters than among men. Liberal politicians sensed an opportunity. They encouraged Fritz Mondale, the Democratic nominee in 1984, to name a woman to his ticket. He did so. And promptly lost forty-nine states.

When I spoke with Mr. Abbott, however, he noted that George Washington was the first candidate to benefit from a gender gap. I laughed. Respectfully, I hope. Youre kidding, sir, I answered, women couldnt even vote in the 1780s. Bill Abbott indulged me like an upstart First-Year history student.

Actually, some women could vote in the early republic. A few elderly spinsters and widows who met property requirements were eligible in some states. But that was not Abbotts major point.

Even though most women did not vote, their voices were heard. Mr. Abbott said if George Washington had run in a modern presidential election, he would have won 70% of mens votes. But there would still have been a stubborn 30% of men voters—some well-known like Sam Adams, John Hancock, George Mason, and Patrick Henry—who might have opposed him.

Mr. Abbott then told me that in thirty years of studying George Washington, he had never encountered a single letter, diary entry, poem, or note by an American woman that was anything less than fully supportive of His Excellency, General Washington. One hundred percent positive.

So, how did George Washington do it? It was not the fact that he was the best horseman and the most skillful dancer in America—although that surely did not hurt. It may have been the fact that he loved the company of the ladies, always noticed them, always spoke with them, and formed many enduring friendships with women.

Probably, Washingtons solid support from women came from his titanic self-control. He had a fierce temper, it was known, but he kept it under an iron discipline. During the Revolutionary War, some young hotspurs had publicly urged General Washington to line Tories up against the wall and shoot them, to make an example of those who consorted with their British occupiers. Washington would have none of it. Nor would he burn American towns rather than let the enemy take them.

Perhaps a great part of Washingtons appeal was his devotion to home and hearth. He let it be known he would rather be at Mount Vernon with Lady Washington than dine with the King of France.

Certainly, Washingtons faith in God was an important factor. Then, as now, women sense this about a man and appreciate it.

Ronald Reagan appreciated Washingtons stellar qualities, too. Several years ago, I had occasion to tell Mr. Edwin Meese, the Presidents loyal lieutenant, that the online members of AOL had voted Ronald Reagan the greatest American. (It was a dicey competition, since Reagan had to beat out such candidates as Madonna and Michael Jackson.) Mr. Meese was stunned: He [Reagan] didnt think so. He thought George Washington was the greatest American.

So do I. And its a tribute to Ronald Reagan that in his humility, he was inspired by George Washington. I thank God for the great devotion of Professor William Abbott. He not only taught me about Washington and the gender gap, he also taught me to listen very closely to my wifes opinions about public figures. Shes usually right.

Abortion is about life

by Jeremiah G. Dys

September 25, 2009

The Charleston Gazette this morning reports of Dr. Susan Wicklunds visit to Charleston yesterday for a book signing and speaking engagement with the Womans Club of Charleston. Wickland, a long-time abortionist from Montana, offers praise for her profession. The Gazette article, unsurprisingly, is glowing in its coverage. But it is the actual words of Dr. Wicklund that left me stammering for words.

Consider, for instance, her description about what abortion is:

Abortion is about life: quality of life for infants, children and adults. Everywhere and in every sense of the word. Life, not death, she writes in her book, This Common Secret, My Journey as an Abortion Doctor.

I am at a complete loss for comment on such a statement. Abortion is about life? Really? Clearly, the abortion industry has done much to justify, conceal, and rationalize their life-ending practices for decades, but is this the new face of pro-abortion activists like Dr. Wicklund? In recent years, the rhetoric of pro-abortion politicians has shifted from discussing the actual procedure to focusing on the focus-group approved message of making abortion safe and rare. President Obama has infamously declared that, though we may disagree, we ought to agree on ending unwanted pregnancies. Such an argument, it would seem, is lost on Dr. Wicklund, who would rather end a human life to improve quality of life for another.

However, as I think about, Dr. Wicklund has actually made a profoundly correct statement.

Continue reading at the The Family Policy Council of West Virginia’s Engage Family Blog…

An Historic Day at the UN

by Robert Morrison

September 25, 2009

We have been told endlessly that we have witnessed an historic day at the UN this week. Indeed, we did. It was a day that many of us could be proud of. A nations leader stood at the podium before the General Assembly and addressed representatives of 192 nations who are member-states of the United Nations. Here is part of what that leader said:

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events. Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth.

Yesterday, the president of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

That nations leader confronted the delegates to the UN General Assembly with no other weapon than the truth. That is what made this week truly historic. In the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one word of truth can move the world.

As much as I admire that nations leader for speaking truth to power, I regret only that it was not my own nations leader. Those powerful words were a portion of the speech delivered by Israels Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He knows that if Iranian mullahs get an atomic bomb, they could achieve in minutes what Hitler failed to do in years—annihilate the main portion of the Jews. Netanyahu is determined—more determined than the European Union, more determined, apparently, than the current U.S. administration—that Iran will not achieve its goal of nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration has been sending weak and half-hearted signals about the Iranian mullahs drive for nuclear weapons. Would the U.S. approve or disapprove if Netanyahu sent Israeli jets to take out Irans nuclear sites? I dont know. I doubt if anyone in or out of this administration knows.

Former Carter National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski raised eyebrows this week by saying the U.S. should be prepared to take strong and forceful measures to prevent a clash in the Mideast—by confronting any Israeli planes seeking to make a preemptive strike against Irans nuclear sites.

We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?… They have the choice of turning back or not…

And if they dont? Are we really talking about shooting down Israeli jets? Are we really prepared to defend the Iranian mullahs terror regime?

This would certainly represent change, but not in any productive or beneficial way. Seemingly, the U.S. cannot stop the Iranian mullahs from their mad rush to get nuclear weapons, but our current administration is being urged to consider stopping the Israelis from doing it.

Let us hope that Brzezinski is not speaking for the Obama administration. As for the Carter administration, for which he did speak, it should be remembered that more people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America lost their lives and their liberty under the Carter administration than under any U.S. presidency since World War II. Communists made major gains in the face of Carters invertebrate leadership. I guess thats what they give Peace Prizes for.

Were told that President Obamas presiding over the UN Security Council is historic. Surely it is. Did he, I wonder, mention the Gulag with its ten million victims? Did he refer at all to Chinas Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which claimed ten million lives? Or the killing fields of Cambodia? Or the Rwandan genocide? We are told that the reason this week is historic is because an American President has never before presided over the UN Security Council.

The UN Security Council is powerful, the media informs us. It is important. Really? If the UN Security Council is so powerful, why is it the case that the UN Security Council did nothing about any of the horrors mentioned above? I doubt that the UN Security Council even passed one of its typically toothless resolutions to deplore millions of human deaths. Or, shall we mention the UN Population Fund—which is itself complicit in 50 million forced abortions in China?

Driving to work this week, I spied a 1967 Chevy truck in front of me. It sported Maryland license plates. Above the plate was this word: Historic. Now, theres an appropriate use of this most overused word. See the USA in your Chevrolet—and have no part in that disgraceful truckling to any general assembly of tin pot despots and ditzy dictators.

Kentuckys Dark and Bloody Ground Now Bloodier

by Robert Morrison

September 25, 2009

News reports are informing us of the probable homicide of a federal Census worker in Kentucky.

And early reports are mentioning in conjunction with this likely murder the word feds hanging from a placard around the victims neck. AP coverage includes other anti-government violence—including the worst case of domestic terrorism prior to 9/11—the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. That bombing, for which Tim McVeigh was tried, convicted, and executed, claimed 189 lives, including the lives of several children in the day care center and one unborn child.

I was sent by Family Research Council president Gary Bauer to Oklahoma City to present a specially commissioned painting titled American Pieta. It is part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. We wanted to express our concern and compassion for the good people of Oklahoma City who were victims of this senseless violence.

If you read between the lines of the story on the presumably murdered Census worker in Kentucky, however, you begin to see a story line emerging: Criticize federal government policies and this is what you get—murder.

Americans have a two-hundred year history of criticizing government policies. My mothers family came from Kentucky. Theres considerable suspicion of federal officers—including revenuers—in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Folk singer Joan Baez popularized a ballad sung by the moonshiners of those mountains back in 1962. Her song Copper Kettle hearkened back almost two centuries.

My daddy, he made whiskey,

And my grandaddy, he did too.

We aint paid no whiskey tax

Since Seventeen Ninety-two

President George Washington led an army into Western Pennsylvania in 1794 to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. It was the first dangerous test of the authority of the new federal government. Alexander Hamilton, who as Secretary of the Treasury levied the whiskey tax, and who was at Washingtons side as Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania militia marched against the Whiskey Rebels, said whenever the federal government appeared in force, it must appear as a Hercules, using overwhelming force to speedily suppress rebellion.

We must all remember the liberal medias 1995 attempts to tar conservatives with the violence of Tim McVeigh. They never succeeded in finding even the remotest ties between McVeigh, his loner, loser cohorts, and any recognizable conservative group or movement. It was not for lack of trying.

At the time of his crime, and in 2001 when he went to his death, there was not a murmur of sympathy for Tim McVeigh among conservatives. How could there be? By commissioning that beautiful painting to remember the victims of Tim McVeigh, we demonstrated where our hearts were.

If we had sympathy for anyone else, it was for McVeighs hard-working, honest parents. They were the truly tragic figures and never deserved the sorrow they endured.

Today, we must be just as firm in rejecting any anti-government violence. The administration is advancing some of the most alarming policies we have seen in two hundred years. We have a right, we have a duty, to protest these policies as dangers to life and liberty. And in that pursuit, we will call for the speedy apprehension and trial of the perpetrator of this crime in Kentucky. We will urge stern justice for anyone convicted in this despicable crime. The answer to such situations rests—as it always has—not with bullets but with ballots.

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