Month Archives: January 2010

Want More Brain Cells? Start Running

by David Prentice

January 20, 2010

Aerobic exercise such as running or jogging stimulates the growth of new brain cells and improves the memory and ability to learn. Scientists divided mice into two groups: one group was given a running wheel they could use at any time, and the other group was given a couch and TV with remote control had no exercise wheel. The study showed that even a few days of running stimulates the brain to grow new cells in a part of the brain involved in memory and recall, and the exercised mice performed better on memory and learning tests. The new study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous studies have shown increased neural stem cell production can be induced by exercise, even in aged mice, and that new brain stem cells are important for memory and learning. Earlier work suggested that exercise stimulated neural stem cell formation in humans as well.

Another advantage of running is that you can generate some electricity.

Adult Stem Cells Save Legs

by David Prentice

January 20, 2010

A number of different reports have shown that adult stem cells can save limbs that might otherwise have been amputated. The most recent results, published in Bone Marrow Transplantation, reported salvage of legs in seven out of nine patients treated with their own peripheral blood adult stem cells. The paper also gives a nice summary of some of the previous clinical trials in this area.

Critical limb ischemia, the severe loss of oxygen to extremities, is an end-stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD). often results in amputation of the affected limb, and can be life-threatening. Cathy Ballzigler almost lost her life, but after receiving her own adult stem cells, both her life and her leg were saved. Tom Fisher is another example; he was facing amputation of his leg due to diabetic complications, but the leg was saved after injection of his own adult stem cells.

A few of the clinical trials currently available.

Filling Gaps in Bones with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

January 20, 2010

A new study shows that adult stem cells encased in a spongy matrix can be used to fill in large gaps in bones, providing a potential alternative to bone grafts. Georgia Tech researchers tested the method in rats with large bone gaps, to simulate massive injuries. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal adult stem cells or amniotic fluid stem cells were tested. Eight weeks after the treatment, new bone bridged the gaps in four of nine defects treated with scaffolds seeded with adult stem cells, one of nine defects in the amniotic stem cell group, and none of the defects in rats treated with the scaffold alone.

According to lead author Robert Guldberg:

Massive bone injuries are among the most challenging problems that orthopedic surgeons face, and they are commonly seen as a result of accidents as well as in soldiers returning from war. This study shows that there is promise in treating these injuries by delivering stem cells to the injury site. These are injuries that would not heal without significant medical intervention.”

The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also indicated that adult stem cells are shy about being watched while they work. In an attempt to track the stem cells, some experiments used cells labeled with fluorescent quantum dots. In those experiments, the researchers found that the cells showed lower therapeutic benefit.

Previously researchers have had good success with smaller bone breaks in patients, even with non-healing injuries, using adult stem cells.

Babies Go to Congress

by Sherry Crater

January 20, 2010

Heartbeat International, an association of more than 1100 pregnancy help centers, is providing an opportunity for women served by these centers to bring their babies to Capitol Hill. These moms, accompanied by their babies, will meet with Members of Congress on January 21, 2010 to express their gratitude for the life-saving work of pregnancy help centers.

Our elected representatives need to know that pregnancy resource centers exist in most of their districts. These help centers are serving communities by uniting thousands of compassionate individuals with a passion for life, who also fund the community-based centers and serve as volunteers, to provide the emotional and practical help women facing unexpected pregnancies need. This network, including doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers, educators and other professionals, provides the vital information women need to make an informed decision, the facts that abortion providers often leave out. As Peggy Hartshorn, President of Heartbeat International, stated, Alternatives to abortion must be available so no woman ever feels forced to abort her baby.

Moms and babies saved by pregnancy help centers want to send the clear message that pregnancy resource centers (PRC) are good for America. You can find out more about the untold story and impact of the PRC movement, and the tremendous good being done in our midst, at www.apassiontoserve.org. A combined services report, A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life, records the development and vital work of the three major pregnancy resource network groupsHeartbeat, CareNet and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA). If you are interested in locating a pregnancy resource center, you can access http://www.optionline.org.

Petri Pork Production Planned

by David Prentice

January 20, 2010

Scientists in the Netherlands have created lab-grown pork. The Dutch labs in the In-vitro Meat Consortium, a network of publicly funded Dutch research institutions, have been fakin’ bacon since 2006. They admit that the texture isn’t quite right yet (currently the “meat” has the consistency and feel of scallop.) They start with pig muscle stem cells, growing the cells in a nutrient medium (here’s one generic example) in the lab. They estimate it would take about 30 days to make a small pork chop.

So far their main problem is protein content—protein makes up about 99% of normal meat, but only about 80% in their lab-grown meat, which gives it a soggy, flimsy consistency. Prof. Mark Post at Eindhoven University said:

What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there.”

Apparently none of the researchers have actually eaten the lab-made meat yet either, and Prof. Post said the lower protein content means it probably wouldn’t taste anything like pork. For now, they hope to grow large quantities of the cells in huge bioreactors to make processed meats like minced meat, hamburgers or hot dogs. They also envision incorporating other cell types and molecules, such as omega 3 fatty acids from fish.

A recent Nature Biotechnology article noted that several groups were concentrating on production of lab-grown meat, primarily with a view toward the potential environmental benefits, with the possibility that “by 2022 consumers could be tucking into ‘VatBeef’ grown in a lab.” PETA is also sponsoring a competition for the first success at lab-grown chicken. Supposedly the packages will be marked “incubator range” rather than free-range.

Will Haiti Be Planned Parenthood’s Latest Cash Cow?

by Tony Perkins

January 20, 2010

As rescue workers continue in their efforts to rescue and care for the survivors of the Haiti earthquake —- Planned Parenthood is raising money to create more victims.

While Americans have literally given tens of millions of dollars to rescue and aid children and their families in Haiti, the International Planned Parenthood Federation launched a fund-raising appeal within a day of the earthquake seeking funds for their family planning clinics in Haiti.

They certainly know their business and know opportunity when they see it. In the wake of a disaster such as this and hurricanes like Katrina, pregnant mothers who have lost homes, incomes and even family members are in crisis. Planned Parenthoods solution —- charitable giving in the form of reproductive healthcare or in plain English, abortions. This is nothing new, after 9/11 they offered women in New York free abortions. Following hurricane Katrina, Planned Parenthood offered free morning after pills.

Hopefully, the Haitian people will encounter the charitable hand of Americans through the ministries and organizations that will save lives not take them. I am encouraging people to give to Christian ministries like those listed here and Christian adoption organizations like Bethany Christian Services who will offer real help to the people of Haiti.

Amidst the Rubble, Planned Parenthood Looks Out for Itself

by Family Research Council

January 20, 2010

During this moment in history when human beings, trapped under concrete slabs are calling out to be rescued; a day in which people who have miraculously survived the Haiti earthquake do not have enough water to continue living; during a time when the UN and US are sending thousands of security personnel for fear of riots and a deteriorating security situation, International Planned Parenthood, the worlds largest abortion provider, is opportunistically responding to this humanitarian crisis by collecting donations for Sexual & Reproductive Health Services for the people of Haiti.

Note the following immediate health needs in Haiti, according to the World Health Organization (WHO): search and rescue of survivors trapped underneath rubble; treatment of people with major trauma injuries; preventing the infection of wounds; provision of clean water and sanitation. Somehow abortion services did not make the list. Planned Parenthood will objectify and manipulate any person or situation to advance their agenda.

As Haiti begins to recover and grieve one of the most deadly catastrophes ever (possibly 200,000 lives lost), and as the United States approaches the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22 —- a moment when 50,000,000 aborted children will be remembered —- let us be clear that abortion is not health care. Not here in the United States, and not overseas.

[Editor’s Note: Here are some organizations which are offering real help to Haiti]

Fathering Confusion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 18, 2010

In June 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama gave a moving speech on fatherhood in his hometown of Chicago. Here, in part, is what he said:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child —- it’s the courage to raise one. We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

All true. So why is a man who acknowledges the central importance of fathers and mothers seeking to corrode marriage? Consider the President’s remarks made in October 2009 to the 30th anniversary dinner of the Human Rights Campaign —- America’s leading pro-homosexual organization. In his speech, Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day when:

..we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman. You will see a nation that’s valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union —- a union in which gay Americans are an important part. I am committed to these goals. And my administration will continue fighting to achieve them.

Huh? I thought children need moms and dads, not just two mommies or “spouses.”

This is more relevant now than ever, as in 2010 the President and his allies are committed to repealing the military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the ranks and passing the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would impose homosexuality in faith-based and other private activities.

Either fathers and mothers are needed in a marriage or they are not. And either an unborn child is a human person from conception (as Mr. Obama suggests in his remarks above) until natural death, or it is merely a complex of disparate cells (as Mr. Obama has suggested elsewhere).

You’re in the White House now, Mr. President. The time for ponderous ambivalence is long past. Gotta make your mind up. Please do so in favor of real marriage and human life.

Taking Things Up A Notch For Cord Blood Transplants

by David Prentice

January 18, 2010

Doctors at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have successfully increased the stem cell numbers from cord blood and used the expanded numbers of cord blood stem cells in patient transplants. Stored cord blood was thawed and stem cell growth stimulated using an engineered protein that stimulates the “Notch” signaling pathway in the cells. Notch signaling is a key regulator of cell growth and development. Senior author Dr. Irwin Bernstein has been working on this approach using Notch signaling for at least a decade. The new results reported in Nature Medicine show that stimulation of the stem cells resulted in an average 164-fold increase in the number of CD34+ cells, a type of hematopoietic (blood forming) stem cell critical in adult stem cell transplants.

The study also reports preliminary results of an ongoing Phase I clinical trial. Ten patients received cord blood stem cell transplants incorporating the expanded stem cells. On average, it took half as long (14 days) for the transplanted cells to engraft, compared to using non-expanded cord blood stem cells. Seven of the 10 patients are still alive with no evidence of disease.

Dr. Colleen Delaney, lead author, pointed out:

The real ground-breaking aspect of this research is that we have shown that you can manipulate stem/progenitor cells in the lab with the goal of increasing their numbers. When given to a person, these cells can rapidly give rise to white blood cells and other components of the blood system.”

Finding a donor match for an adult stem cell transplant can be difficult. Cord blood is increasingly being used as an alternative to bone marrow adult stem cell transplants. Through 2009, more than 20,000 unrelated (donor) cord blood stem cell transplants have been performed worldwide. Cord blood stem cells can be effective even when there is some mismatch between transplant donor and recipient. But the numbers of adult stem cells in a unit of cord blood can be low. This new result using Notch signaling to expand the numbers of stem cells in a cord blood unit is a significant step in making transplants more widely available.

NYT Can’t Bear to Mention the Bible — Even When It’s the Point of the Movie!

by Cathy Ruse

January 18, 2010

On Friday, the New York Times published a review of the new Denzel Washington movie, The Book of Eli. But the review doesn’t mention even once what Eli is protecting: the last copy of the Bible on Earth. The closest the reviewer can bring herself to mentioning the point of the story is to speak of the “fog of religiosity that hangs over the movie.” Ha!

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